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Tsunoda hedges bets as AlphaTauri seat race heats up

Alpha Tauri's Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP

Yuki Tsunoda said Thursday that AlphaTauri might need “three seats” in Formula One next season as he vies with Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson for the team’s two places.

New Zealander Lawson has driven the past three races for AlphaTauri as a stand-in for Australian veteran Ricciardo, who broke his hand in practice last month.

When asked at the Japanese Grand Prix which one of Ricciardo or Lawson he would prefer to drive alongside next season, Tsunoda said it was “scary to say”.

“It depends on what they’re thinking — if they want more results, probably Daniel would be more easier, he has more experience,” said the Japanese driver, who is in his third season with AplhaTauri.

“Liam’s best score is ninth, I’ve never done ninth. Maybe Liam and Daniel, three seats.”

Tsunoda said his own status for next season was “not confirmed yet”.

Ricciardo, who was released by McLaren last year after two disappointing seasons, joined AlphaTauri in July as a replacement for Dutch rookie Nyck de Vries.

Ricciardo said he believed AlphaTauri offered him “the best path” back to a seat with the senior Red Bull team.

But the 34-year-old broke his hand in practice for the Dutch Grand Prix and was replaced by reserve Lawson.

Lawson had a dream performance at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, knocking world champion Max Verstappen out of qualifying and then finishing the race in ninth place.

“If the team wants to develop the car more, to be competitive, maybe Daniel,” said Tsunoda.

“But at the same time, Liam, in his first three races, he has immediately shown a good performance.”

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