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Ricciardo: RB F1 team "in better place" after addressing Tsunoda tensions

Daniel Ricciardo says his RB Formula 1 team is “in a better place” after moving quickly to address the tensions that arose with Yuki Tsunoda at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Tsunoda was asked to let Ricciardo past in the closing laps as the Australian was on fresh soft tyres, and potentially in a position to challenge the cars ahead.

Tsunoda queried the call and was reluctant to comply, but he eventually did, and then frustrated to see that Ricciardo didn’t make any further progress. After the flag he made his feelings clear by passing Ricciardo and swerving towards him on the cooldown lap.

Team principal Laurent Mekies tried to calm things down by getting the drivers together and talking through what had transpired.

Ricciardo says the prompt action has left the team in a stronger position than it was previously as the air was quickly cleared.

"What happened at the end of the race, yes, it wasn't great," he said. “But actually then two hours later, how we walked out of that meeting, I think actually that put the team in a better place than it was even Saturday morning.

"I think the race situation is something that happened, drivers never like team orders. So a driver maybe doesn't react straight away, it's not the first time that's ever happened. I think that was all pretty clear.

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

"I think it was important for us to talk about that, but then also the in-lap, just to kind of be clear that even if it's heat of the moment, these things can have bigger consequences.

"We talked, personally, privately, doors closed, very openly, transparently. So it was the right thing for us to do. And we left Saturday night, feeling like it's done."

Asked by Autosport if it was the first time there had been tension with Tsunoda since they became team-mates in the second half of 2023, Ricciardo said: "We only had a few races, but I think it was all pretty smooth last year.

"I say last year as if 'Okay, well, this year, there's going to be problems.' Obviously, there was that little thing on the weekend.

"But I think if we didn't address it, and he kind of stomped off and left the track and whatever, then okay, you'd say, alright, this is an issue. But I think we were both very willing to sit in a room together and just talk it through. So I think that was important."

Ricciardo admitted Tsunoda’s move on the in-lap came as a surprise.

"It did, and that's why obviously I came on the radio," he said. "I was like, ‘Alright, what the hell's going on here?’ I said a few things, but I tried to also stop myself, because I know everything gets broadcast!

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

"I knew it was something that we would discuss once the helmets are off, and maybe the heart rates come down a little. But I think the team handled it really well after the race, in terms of getting us together, making sure that nothing was left on the table.

"We left that room feeling like there was no more any sides or feelings of like, I got hard done by, or there's a bit of animosity, like none of that. It's also race one, so you can't have any of this. So I think the team handled us very well after it."

Ricciardo agreed that the situation reflected well on the new leadership of the team under Mekies and CEO Peter Bayer.

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"Honestly, I was curious to see how it was going be dealt with," he said. "Because it's one of those ones where as race car drivers we're stubborn. And sometimes like, 'Ah, screw this, I'm just walking away, and they'll deal with it.'

"But I think the fact that we got brought into a room and just talked about it, and it was very calm, it was very composed, it was no pointing fingers. It was just, let's talk about this.

"We know that when we leave this room, we feel a lot better about it and know that we go to Saudi with absolutely no hangover or whatever from this little incident. So that was good."

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