Ricciardo beaten by Red Bull junior as pair battle for race seat

F1 preview: A lap of the Miami Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo has been beaten by a Red Bull junior star in a race ahead of the Miami Grand Prix. The Australian was edged out by Yuki Tsunoda in a hilarious boat battle ahead of this weekend’s race.

The race was the first part of the (Un)Serious Race Series between members of Red Bull and AlphaTauri. Ricciardo was gracious in defeat and joked Tsunoda’s height made him the better fit.

The 33-year-old also pointed the finger at the machine as he offered up excuses for his loss. He commented: “When I first saw the mini jet boat, I thought that for once, Yuki can have the last laugh.

“Normally he’s the one getting a lot of stick about his size. He actually fit pretty good in this, and I looked out of place. It was built for Yuki and that’s about it. I blame the vehicle, it is always the vehicle, never the person behind the wheel.”

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Ricciardo and Tsunoda are likely to be the main contenders in the fight to become Red Bull’s next driver. Ricciardo has his eyes on a 2024 race return after signing as Red Bull’s reserve driver for 2023.

The former McLaren star has previously claimed he was only looking at a top team which keeps his options limited. But the eight-time race winner seems keen to earn a promotion to become Max Verstappen’s team-mate.

Ahead of the weekend, he revealed an upcoming test would allow him to prove his skills to team bosses. He said: “I’m going to jump in the car in July, so only a couple of months away. I’ll get back behind the wheel. I’m sure that will also really stimulate me and give me all those feels back.

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“Naturally, I’m going to try and put a bit of pressure on myself for that and I guess remind the team I can still do it and see how it goes.” Meanwhile, AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost suggested Tsunoda could be ready to jump up to the top team by 2025.

However, Christian Horner still has doubts about both drivers which leaves Red Bull’s succession plan unknown. The 48-year-old team principal denied the team were considering handing Ricciardo a race return.

Ahead of the season, he explained: “We certainly have no plans to utilise him other than in that third driver role, to combine with the commercial activities that he will be performing.” The team principal has also failed to back Tsunoda in a blow to the Japanese star’s chances.

When asked if Tsunoda was future Red Bull material, Horner responded: “I don’t think he’s at that level yet, but he’s making great progress.”

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