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$10 Million Reason Why Daniel Ricciardo Is Above Yuki Tsunoda in Red Bull’s Pecking Order

Nischay Rathore

$10 Million Reason Why Daniel Ricciardo Is Above Yuki Tsunoda in Red Bull’s Pecking Order

Despite comprehensively beating Daniel Ricciardo so far in 2024, Yuki Tsunoda is arguably lower in the Red Bull pecking order. The reason behind that is Christian Horner and Helmut Marko’s loyalty to Ricciardo. But why doesn’t Tsunoda command that loyalty? That is because his V-CARB seat is Honda-sponsored, for a whopping $10 million.

Formula 1 content creator Aldas in his recent YouTube video claimed, “One of the biggest reasons that Yuki [Tsunoda] has been kept on for season after season is because even though he did come in as a Red Bull Junior, in reality, he is actually more of a Honda junior, who have backed him since 2016 and who Red Bull took on due to their technical partnership with Honda. What this also means is that on top of his results, Honda also provides an estimated $10 million a year to Red Bull as an incentive to keep Yuki.”

Aldas also claimed that Horner and Marko place their trust more on drivers who have made it through Red Bull’s junior program. Those include Ricciardo and Liam Lawson. After making this revelation, he also predicted the Japanese driver’s ouster from V-CARB before the start of 2026. That is the season when Honda will leave Red Bull and join Aston Martin.

The loyalty to Ricciardo could be the reason why Red Bull gave him a second chance through the V-CARB seat. After a poor run of form for two years at McLaren, the Australian driver parted ways with the team. As he planned on taking a year off, Red Bull gave him the reserve driver role. Later, they brought him in as Nyck de Vries’ replacement at AlphaTauri (now V-CARB).

The Honey Badger, however, has not fared too well against Yuki Tsunoda. Ricciardo, who started the season with the ambitions of landing a Red Bull seat in 2025, is struggling to even keep his V-CARB seat. Getting rid of Tsunoda in these circumstances could backfire badly for the Faenza-based team that aims to walk out of Red Bull’s shadow.

Red Bull will find it difficult to say no to Yuki Tsunoda

AlphaTauri finished 2023 on a positive note by lifting themselves out of the bottom of the table with some strong results. Naturally, fans and experts expected them to carry the momentum in the V-CARB era.

While Yuki Tsunoda has played his part in living up to those expectations, so far, Daniel Ricciardo hasn’t. V-CARB is currently sixth in the standings with seven points in four races. Every single one of those points has come through Tsunoda.

Despite the car being slow and unstable at times, the 23-year-old has managed to make the most of it. Tsunoda’s will to fight and score points has even earned him Marko’s praise. While the Red Bull taskmaster believes it is too early to make a decision, he has given the Japanese driver his due credit.

But will the 80-year-old say no to Tsunoda if he consistently delivers the results he has so far in the season? Daniel Ricciardo is yet to register a point on the board. Meanwhile, Liam Lawson is waiting for his chance at a full-time seat. In this scenario, V-CARB needs a driver who can guide not just the team but also Lawson (if they decide to bring him in). Tsunoda could turn out to be the dark horse they need.

Post Edited By:Aishwary Gaonkar

About the author

Nischay Rathore

Nischay Rathore


Nischay Rathore is an F1 journalist at The SportsRush with over a thousand articles under his belt. An avid Ayrton Senna admirer, Nischay embarked on his sports journalism journey despite completing graduation in Law. When not covering the high-speed thrills of the pinnacle of motorsport, he can be seen enjoying crime thrillers and 90s gangster movies with a hearty bowl of buttery popcorn.

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