Only Tsunoda can save F1 in 2025: Japan GP – Going up, going down


In the face of soul-destroying boredom, only one driver can bring the entertainment needed to rescue a sport which resembles a broken AI tribute to itself

Yuki Tsunoda RB Visa Cash App

The future of F1 lies with this man alone

Red Bull

Just peer down the back of the re-starting grid for the 2024 Japanese GP.

Is that No22 car’s Orlen rear wing as far back as 17th – as per the TV graphics? Or is it 12th, like all the other timing sheets say? It is on the even side of the line-up after all.

Why is this even important? Because dear readers, F1’s hero, perhaps the one man who might be able to save, on the evidence of this year, what is shaping up to be grand prix racing’s dullest season yet – 2025 – is in the thick of it, primed and ready to shake up your Sunday afternoons in that inimitable way only he knows how.

As Red Bore steamrollered another grand prix weekend at Suzuka, what became apparent is that the chance of any challenge to Max Verstappen’s supremacy might lie at the feet of Milton Keynes’ enemy within – an untamed warrior plucked from the racing wild and trained as one of its own, a fighter with the blade between his teeth.

F1’s rising son could be about to rescue the bloated circus: it’s what was going up and down at the 2024 Japanese GP.


Goin’ Up

Who ya gonna call?

2 Yuki Tsunoda RB Visa Cash App

Tsunoda towers above the rest

While Verstappen vanquishes most of the F1 field into a bunch of blokes who appear as if they’ve won a competition to be in a race with him, one driver has been catching the eye more than most – if you consider what he’s behind the wheel of.

Yuki Tsunoda has manhandled the AlphaTauri AT04 and snappily-named RB VCARB 01 to five points finishes in his last nine races. He has finished ahead of his team-mate – be it hotshot Liam Lawson or beleaguered warhorse Daniel Ricciardo – in six of those nine GPs.

In a year where each and every pundit is saying the top five order – of Red Bull, Fezza, Macca, Aramco Martin and Merc respectively – is more set in stone than ever, it has been Tsunoda who has upset the status quo more often than most, with three top ten qualifying appearances in the opening four GPs.

Visa Crap App Something Or Other Racing is sixth simply on the strength of the young Japanese driver’s brilliance alone. At Suzuka he slipped down the order from 10th at lights-out, only to fight back in his usual swashbuckling manner – helped by a fantastic pitstop which leapfrogged him ahead of two cars – to finish in the points yet again.

3 Yuki Tsunoda RB Visa Cash App

Our hero emerges into the light

When he’s not providing wheel-to-wheel fireworks, Tsunoda can usually be found on the radio unleashing a higher swear-word-to-conjunction ratio than prime Ozzy Osbourne.

The Japanese driver won races in his sole F2 season due to his superb car control – surely this is the team-mate to take on Verstappen’s none-more-pointy Red Bull, and give us some long overdue entertainment at the front?

Horner and Marko have made bold/wild driver choices before, usually called Seb: they’ve chucked in four-time IndyCar champion Sébastien Bourdais, Switzerland’s whiniest man (Sébastien Buemi), a young lad called Sebastian Vettel, as well as Le Mans champ Brendon Hartley, American loose cannon Scott Speed and Russian heavy metal fanatic Daniil Kvyat.

Now’s the time to make a change at Red Bull then – bring on Tsunoda.


200mph-Dorian Gray

Fernanado Alonso Aston Martin 2024 Japanese GP Suzuka

Ageless Alonso

Grand Prix Photo

At the other end of the age spectrum, Alonso again stunned by putting his clearly inferior Aramco car sixth in the GP. Will he stay on?

The Silverstone team looks to be a bit on the turn though, struggling to develop on from last year’s early season form.

Merc doesn’t appear to be doing much better. Perhaps he should just focus on that Triple Crown again, and Dakar – win everything else as well as F1.


Newey Ultimatum

Adrian Newey Red Bull 2024 Japanese GP Suzuka

Would Newey do us all a favour and look elsewhere for the next challenge?

Red Bull

Go on then – let’s make it a hat-trick of silly season stories. More Newey-led updates helped take Red Bull back to the top step with a one-two after the conflagration of Melbourne.

“It’s a credit to all the guys back at the factory,” he told Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz. “We’ve got a tremendous team of engineers, and that spreads through to the whole organisation – their enthusiasm and drive and creativity is what you see here before you.”

Has F1’s greatest designer done everything he can at Red Bull – and would he consider a move to Ferrari to join Hamilton?


Round the outside

McLaren might have had a slightly disappointing race, with third-place starter Lando Norris finishing fifth, but the Brit pulled off some brilliant moves during the GP.

Just take in that outside pass on the Mercedes – one wheel off the grass, lovely.


Goin’ Down

Grove danger

Alexander Albon Williams crash 2024 Japanese GP Suzuka

Smashed Williams given helping hand by spare car candidate vehicle

Grand Prix Photo

Yet another calamitous race for Williams – both cars in the barrier this time.

Can Love Actually himself, team boss James Vowles, get the squad together in time and pull off a Shanghai heist?


Not Swiss timing

Zhou Guanyu Sauber crash 2024 Japanese GP Suzuka

Wheely bad

Grand Prix Photo

Yet more pit stop issues for Kick Stake Sauber Mullet Who Cares (maybe just call it Sauber).

It’s been doing wheel changes for three decades, even longer if you count Le Mans etc – surely the Hinwil bods should have got this sorted out by now?

“We didn’t know before the season that it would be an issue, and it’s not a quick fix,” said part-time F1 driver, full-time Uber Eats star Valtteri Bottas.

“But there is 100% fix planned, hopefully for China. Still not 100% sure.”

Not exactly overflowing with optimism there, Valtteri.