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Ricciardo and Tsunoda disagree over RB swap call in F1 Bahrain GP

Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda have voiced opposite opinions over RB’s swap call during the closing stages of the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

In the closing stages of the 2024 F1 opener, Tsunoda was hunting down Kevin Magnussen for 12th place on hard tyres while team-mate Ricciardo was closing in on both of them on softs.

On lap 50 RB asked Tsunoda to concede position to his team-mate so that Ricciardo could attack the Haas driver on the faster tyre compound, which the Japanese driver initially disputed, but belatedly swapped places a lap later.

Ricciardo was unable to overtake Magnussen but held onto 13th place and finished directly ahead of Tsunoda.

Throughout the incident Tsunoda aired his grievances at the swap call over team radio and on the cooldown lap appeared to serve towards Ricciardo.

Speaking after the race, Tsunoda said he didn’t understand the RB team order and wanted to review the decision.

“I was just about to overtake Magnussen, I was side by side one the main straight and got a driver swap [for the] last few laps,” Tsunoda said.

“To be honest, I didn't understand what the team thought. So, I have to understand what they were thinking, but so far I don't understand.

“We have to review what was their thoughts to be honest, I don't really understand.”

 

However, Ricciardo said in the pre-race team strategy meeting the scenario was covered so he expected the swap.

“We talked about it before the race and we go through strategy and we have a few plans of what strategy that we might do,” Ricciardo explained.

“It was highly likely starting on the [used] soft meant I was going to finish the race on a new soft and have an attacking last stint. The call was quite expected.

“I know when you are in the race and you are a little bit more emotional and it is a bit more intense but this call came as no surprise.

“Obviously every lap counts when you are on this tyre and trying to get this little bit of grip out of it so you need to react to the team call. Also, we weren’t in a points position yet so there was really nothing to lose. Just let me go and see if I can do something about.”

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Ricciardo added he was happy to swap positions back with Tsunoda if the call came from RB after he was unable to overtake Magnussen.

“In the end whether I am 13th or 14th, I don’t know if any driver cares about that but I don’t, so if the team had let him back by before the finish line I would’ve done it because it means nothing to me,” he added. “Unless we are in the points who cares?

“But it is really just if you are in the points position. If he was letting me by for ninth and he is 10th or whatever then maybe you swap again if I cannot get eighth. But in that situation it didn’t matter today.

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01 Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01 Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“It is race one of 24 and yes there was a little bit of conflict today but I don’t want that to set the tone. I think we will talk about it now in the briefing honestly. Hopefully, once he has calmed down, he can say, ‘OK, yeah I should’ve moved a lap earlier’.”

The Australian also felt the hold-up wrecked his chances of overtaking Magnussen, and then Zhou Guanyu ahead of them who finished 11th, having lost the peak performance of his soft tyres before being able to attack the Haas driver.

“Being fully transparent from my side, I think the call was already one lap too late and then he has reacted too late,” Ricciardo explained.

“When the soft tyre is like this every lap is crucial, I think I already lost probably two-and-a-half good laps of the tyre and that was maybe the difference.

“Could we have caught Stroll in 10th? No. At best we may have got Zhou. So, points were still tricky but we had to try something.”

Additional reporting by Filip Cleeren

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