RB proud of progress: ‘We have invested a lot of time in this with him’

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RB proud of progress: 'We have invested a lot of time in this with him'

Visa Cash App RB did not start the season convincingly, but achieved good results in Australia and Japan after two scoreless weekends. As a result, the sister team is now the midfield leader in the championship. According to CEO Peter Bayer, there is much more in store: the team is now focusing on Aston Martin.

During the time of Toro Rosso, it was almost an annual goal of team boss Franz Tost: fifth place among the constructors. However, they never got further than sixth place. RB will again occupy sixth place in 2024, although the gap to Aston Martin, or rather to Fernando Alonso, is considerable. RB is also not helped by the fact that all points come from one driver: Yuki Tsunoda.

Tires are decisive at the start

Ricciardo crashed at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix, but the Australian lost many places before his crash, just like teammate Yuki Tsunoda. Both gentlemen started on the medium tires, while many drivers behind them started on the soft rubber. “The tires played a big role in that,” Bayer confirms. ‘We also used the soft tires at the restart, and then we shot off the spot as well. The drivers made no mistake,” said the Austrian, who celebrated his 53rd birthday in Japan.

In conversation with Auto Motor und Sport, the team’s CEO does not regret the tire choice. ‘This was numerically the fastest strategy. We hoped that we could keep up with the cars in front of us as we got through the first corners. The great starting advantage of the soft tires meant that we adjusted the original strategy and opted for the soft tires at the restart.’

Tsunoda by leaps and bounds

The first nine places are usually given to the drivers of Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, and Alonso. Tsunoda was once again best of the rest with P10. ‘Tsnoda’s performance was flawless. He delivered a masterpiece. He overtook a lot, which is not easy on this track, and still kept his tires alive. He drove very consistent lap times, especially in the last ten laps. His lap times varied by a maximum of one tenth per lap. That shows he had everything under control.”

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RB overjoyed with 'flawless' Tsunoda: 'He delivered a masterpiece'
Tsunoda is one of the standouts of the last races.

“Of course you also have to pay attention to the pit crew,” Bayer points to the moment why five drivers entered the pit lane together and Tsunoda was the first to leave. ‘That gave a lot of extra energy. Overtaking via pit stops doesn’t happen much anymore since we no longer have to refuel.’

Tsunoda has also made great strides with his outbursts via team radio. ‘Absolutely, we spent a lot of time on this with him. I like emotional drivers and athletes, but we explained to him that swearing costs a tenth every time. Fortunately, he is ambitious enough to realize the importance of this. He has also improved considerably physically over the winter. He gets a lot of strength from that. He has a new physiotherapist with a lot of experience, and that is very good for him. He also ensures that Yuki remains calm and focused, even during stressful moments.’

Sight on Aston Martin

“The positive thing is that we were able to keep up with Lance Stroll, because Aston Martin had a major upgrade,” says Bayer. So we can be satisfied with that. On paper this circuit should not have suited us well, but the speed was there. Stroll couldn’t get past it even with DRS. We also managed to make up some of our deficit in the fast corners, so it was definitely a step forward.’ RB is now on seven points, while Aston Martin is only one point behind its engine supplier with 33 points.

RB was provided with a new floor in Japan, but according to Bayer we have not yet seen the effect of that upgrade. “That is especially useful on the slow circuits, which we get quickly,” Bayer refers to the race in Monaco. “In Suzuka there are only a few slow corners.”

Finally, Bayer also defended Ricciardo after the starting crash. ‘It was a normal racing incident, that can always happen. The soft tires offered so much grip that Alexander Albon may have been a bit overconfident. He came around the outside in a fast corner. There was no room and nothing to gain.’ Bayer seems to be placing some of the blame on the Williams driver.

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