The news that Yuki Tsunoda will stay with AlphaTauri F1 in 2023 was one of the most anticipated announcements in the ‘silly season’ of the F1 driver market.
Scuderia AlphaTauri F1 team principal Franz Tost has suggested several times that Yuki Tsunoda intends to stay with Pierre Gasly, who was announced as staying in June, but Red Bull approves. I was waiting.
A few weeks ago, Yuki Tsunoda said that his future depends on “what is behind the scenes” and that he is happy with his performance despite the lack of results this year.
Yuki Tsunoda hasn’t scored a point since F1’s Spanish Grand Prix, but AlphaTauri F1 as a whole is struggling in the middle of the field, which is more crowded than a year ago.
As it stands, AlphaTauri F1 is locked into an unchanged line-up of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly for 2023, although that could change.
The Alpine F1 team is known to have Pierre Gasly at the top of its shortlist to fill the seat vacated by Fernando Alonso.
For Pierre Gasly to transfer to the Alpine F1 team, it is a condition that a new driver can be found for Alpha Tauri F1.
Red Bull had plans to draft Colton Herta from IndyCar, but that was canceled after the FIA refused to grant a special F1 super-license.
However, it was revealed last weekend that Red Bull F1 motorsport adviser Helmut Marko had met with Nick de Vries, leaving the possibility of a move for Pierre Gasly still open.
If Pierre Gasly leaves, Yuki Tsunoda will become the experienced driver and de facto team leader in AlphaTauri F1 in 2023.
But Yuki Tsunoda’s temperament is often in the news and clearly plays a big role for the still developing driver.
Yuki Tsunoda has admitted that the work that Pierre Gasly leads could be a challenge.
“I don’t expect to be able to show an immediate performance or give feedback to the team as quickly as Pierre,” said Yuki Tsunoda at Zandvoort.
“But at the moment I’m learning as much as possible from him. There’s still a lot to learn from him. We’re developing the car as much as possible.”
Yuki Tsunoda’s growth has come a long way. Red Bull moved him from England to Italy midway through last season, bringing him closer to the team. It is such an important move that AlphaTauri F1 also mentioned it in their press release announcing it for 2023, looking at its progress since then.
It was a comfortable working environment for Yuki Tsunoda. AlphaTauri F1 is a smaller team with less pressure than Red Bull and other front teams. He has a boss, Franz Tost, who knows how to get the best out of his drivers. Then there was Pierre Gasly, a teammate who was not only a role model on the track, but a friendly one off the track as well.
“I think he has probably taken F1 a bit more seriously now. This is the right approach,” said Gasly in an interview before the summer break.
“In that respect, he said, I made an impression by showing the dedication and commitment that the sport requires.”
“This year we’ve worked as a team, but last year we were a bit divided because we didn’t have much experience. He wasn’t really used to F1 yet.”
“I think this year he has a clear idea and clear feedback on what is really needed to be fast and we can work together to improve the package we have.”
This is an improvement that has also been noted by Jody Egginton, technical director of AlphaTauri F1.
“There’s a lot of information that drivers have to understand, but it doesn’t always grab hold immediately,” Egginton said.
“In a way, just like someone doing a difficult or technical exercise, or even revising for an exam, practice makes perfect. A lot of things are going well.”
“Also, he forms a better opinion of what he wants from the car. Any driver takes time.”
Yuki Tsunoda also showed glimpses of his ability in F1. An impressive F1 debut in Bahrain in 2021 and a fourth-place finish in Abu Dhabi may be worth noting. Also, although not reflected in the points, Tsunoda’s performance has taken a step forward in 2022.
At Imola this year, he moved up from 16th on the grid to 7th on a track that is difficult to pass. The points gap with Pierre Gasly has also shrunk compared to last year. Yuki Tsunoda scored 11 points against Gasly’s 22 points, but the difference could have been even smaller had it not been for engine problems like in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan.
The big challenge for Yuki Tsunoda will be to convert that potential into skills that will help him lead a team should Pierre Gasly leave.
Yuki Tsunoda has won fans around the world with his outspoken personality. Pierre Gasly said: ‘Whatever comes to his mind, it comes out of his mouth after 0.1 second’.
But stepping up to a leadership role for AlphaTauri would be an important test for his long-term future at Red Bull.
Franz Tost said in a press release announcing Yuki Tsunoda’s retirement in 2023 that he believes it will take three years for the driver to fully adapt.
The apprenticeship will end in 2023.
Category: F1 / Tsunoda Hiroki / Alpha Tauri