Apr.2 - Yuki Tsunoda says he is rising to the challenge of proving he is "mature" enough for a top Formula 1 seat.

Although still just 23, the Japanese has been with Red Bull's second F1 outfit for four consecutive seasons - but is now in doubt for the future as backer Honda prepares to switch to Aston Martin for 2026.

One regular criticism of Tsunoda is that while he may be fast, he is prone to letting his emotions bubble over in the cockpit. But despite one notable loss of temper in Bahrain, he has taken a step forward this year.

"I don't shout so much over the radio anymore," he told Japanese media ahead of his home grand prix at Suzuka this weekend.

"I didn't think shouting caused me to lose concentration, but in Bahrain I felt that I overdid it a little bit, so I started to consciously try to improve my concentration in a more professional manner. I started to think that I need to show that I'm growing as a driver," Tsunoda added.

"I want to grow even more and become a top driver and aim for the championship, so I keep that in mind when I press the button on the radio. It has become like that."

Red Bull's top F1 consultant, Dr Helmut Marko, hailed Tsunoda recently as it became clear that he is racing past struggling teammate Daniel Ricciardo in terms of consistent pace.

"His problems were a lack of control, outbursts and a tendency to make mistakes. All of that has gone this season," said the energy drink company's 80-year-old Austrian advisor.

However, Marko warned that he needs to take more steps forward in order to be considered a candidate for a promotion to Red Bull Racing.

Tsunoda told Japanese media: "In the past two races, I felt that I was able to suppress my emotions naturally without having to press the radio button, and I was happy about that.

"By suppressing my emotions, I cooled down faster. I was also able to maintain my concentration."

Tsunoda's more immediate worry, however, are the local weather forecasts for the Japanese GP.

"I think the forecast says the weather won't be very good, so I'm worried about that," he smiled.

When asked about Tsunoda by Austria's Laola1, Marko says the most striking thing has been how much Daniel Ricciardo has struggled alongside him so far in 2024.

"We are all puzzling over that," he said. "He is generally slower than Yuki. Something never goes right with him, which is surprising, because things looked very good for him in the winter test."

But is Tsunoda really better now, or is Ricciardo simply struggling? Liam Lawson, currently impatiently warming the bench at RB, could provide the answer.

When asked if Tsunoda might actually be good enough for Red Bull Racing, Marko said: "You would have to compare him with another driver first. Because the question is, has Yuki become a high flyer or is Daniel weak?"

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