New RB F1 car already feels like a «really big step»

On Thursday, Tsunoda and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo logged their first miles during a shakedown and filming day at the Italian circuit following a glitzy launch in Las Vegas the previous week, where the former AlphaTauri team presented its all-new identity as Visa Cash App RB.

Tsunoda said the new car already feels like a significant improvement over the car that finished only eighth in the constructors’ standings last season, but had a strong belated evolution that saw Ricciardo finish seventh in Mexico and Tsunoda grab eighth in Abu Dhabi.

«It’s feeling great on the track, the first run with the VCARB 01 went all smooth,» said the 23-year-old Japanese, who stays on board for a fourth campaign.

«I already felt a couple of steps of improvement compared to last year and a really big step I felt compared to the same time last year. I really enjoyed also the new car with the new livery, new team, so it was a positive day.

«I would say overall, it’s an easier handling car and just didn’t feel any outstanding issue or strong characteristics and movements. So far, I’m feeling positive.»

Ricciardo added: «From a feeling it was just nice to get a few laps again after a Christmas break. It’s hard to know yet where we will be but I felt really good getting behind the wheel again.

«Being back with Red Bull was already something that made me feel whole again, being back with that family. And now this year it’s another phase of this team’s ‘career’.

Yuki Tsunoda, VCARB 01

Yuki Tsunoda, VCARB 01

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

«It’s a time where we’re no longer seen as just a Red Bull kind of junior team. It’s a team that’s standing on its own two feet.»

Technical director Jody Egginton hopes his squad can start from where it left off in Abu Dhabi rather than having to claw its way back into contention again.

«The overall goal is we want to be competitive, we want to be fighting hard in the midfield and really able to extract all the performance that the car has available and then we develop it from that point,» he said.

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«So, I think if we can tick all of those boxes and get the best out of car, we’ll be happy.

«We had a strong finish to the year last year. Our expectation is that we’re in that fight in the midfield and we can get into that fight a little bit earlier, be a bit more consistent and be a feature in all of the races, really, battling hard in the fight for points and trying to extract the most from the car and from ourselves.»

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