Calmer Tsunoda praises Daniel Ricciardo: learned emotion control from him

Yuki Tsunoda is considered a hothead in Formula 1. Since his Formula 1 debut in 2021, the Japanese driver has repeatedly drawn attention to himself with outbursts of anger on the pit radio – as was the case this year. At the opening race in Bahrain, Tsunoda lost his temper after a team order in the fight for 13th position, after which the 24-year-old was subjected to massive criticism and, after a clarifying conversation, vowed to improve.

At the following race in Saudi Arabia, Tsunoda seemed to keep his word. Despite Kevin Magnussen’s controversial blocking tactics, there were no radio escapades, although Tsunoda admitted that he had to bite his tongue. “I didn’t know that it takes more energy to keep my stress under control than to use my neck or to stop the G-forces,” Tsunoda said at the time.

Racing Bulls drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo together in Bahrain
In Bahrain there was a dispute between the Racing Bulls drivers, Photo: LAT Images

Tsunoda on missing radio escapades: Starting to become more natural

Has anything changed more than three months later? Yes, at least according to Tsunoda: “The first two, three, four races I always had to think about it before pressing the radio button and all that. But now it’s starting to become more natural, or I just stay quiet. It’s certainly the right way.”

At the same time, Tsunoda makes it clear that the step towards a calmer driver in the cockpit is a process. The 73-time GP starter does not see himself as having reached the end of this process yet. “For me, there are three phases,” says Tsunoda. He has already completed the first phase, in which he has to think before pressing the radio button.

Racing Bull driver Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda will compete in his fourth Formula 1 season in 2024, Photo: LAT Images

Tsunoda in radio dilemma: Can’t keep his mouth shut the whole session

“And now there’s more time for: I just have to shut up,” Tsunoda continues. “But you can’t shut up for the whole session because you still need the feedback. So the next phase is certainly to stay calm naturally and provide good feedback, even with the moments of frustration.”

But he is not there yet, the Racing Bulls driver makes clear. “I am happy with the progress at the moment and I don’t really have to think about it much anymore, but sometimes I still have to force myself to stay calm, in traffic for example,” reveals Tsunoda.

Daniel Ricciardo helps with emotion control

Daniel Ricciardo could also help with the further learning process. “He is certainly the more complete driver in general, in terms of emotion control and everything,” says Tsunoda. “The last few years I started from a pretty bad position, especially in terms of emotion control, how consistent you can be throughout the week. And he is very strong in that.”

Daniel Ricciardo (Racing Bulls, RB) on the starting grid before the Formula 1 GP in Miami, portrait.
Tsunoda was able to learn a lot from Daniel Ricciardo, Photo: LAT Images

Even in the short time they spent together as teammates, the Australian was able to help Tsunoda in this area, the man from Kanagawa admits: “I started to learn what he does better than me. And these things, what I learned from him, have certainly influenced my consistency over the year. Emotion control in particular will influence your performance mood over the week.”

The process of becoming a more complete and balanced driver seems to be bearing fruit for Tsunoda. In Formula 1, Tsunoda will probably have his strongest season to date in 2024 in his fourth year in the premier class. In the Grand Prix qualifying sessions, he beat Ricciardo eight times over ten weekends. In the two sprint qualifying sessions in China and Miami, Ricciardo had the edge. And in the World Championship, Tsunoda has also collected significantly more points with the Racing Bulls than his more experienced teammate.

In recent weeks, he has had to deal with increasing criticism due to Tsunoda’s strong form, including from Jacques Villeneuve. However, Ricciardo had clear words for the 1997 Formula 1 World Champion on the Canada weekend, as you can read here:

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