AlphaTauri have launched the car they hope will spark a return to form as anticipation ramps up ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
The Red Bull sister team struggled to a ninth-place finish in 2022 as F1 entered a new era of ground-effect aerodynamics, scoring just 35 points in 22 races.
However, following in the footsteps of Red Bull and unveiling their 2023 challenger in New York, team principal Franz Tost, drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries, and the wider technical department were full of optimism as they unveiled the AT04.
“We learned a lot from the AT03 along the course of its development and much of what we learned has gone forward into the general layout of the AT04 to address some of the weaknesses we identified from last year’s car,” AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton said.
“In simple terms, we were lacking a little bit of downforce compared to our main competitors and there was an opportunity for mass reduction.”
Time for Tsunoda to step up
The Japanese driver was given a big billing ahead of his F1 debut in 2021 but has so far failed to live up to the hype.
He has shown glimpses of the speed and general talent he possesses behind the wheel but his two years in F1 have been blighted by inconsistency and rookie mistakes.
Now heading into his third season with AlphaTauri, Tost says it’s time for Tsunoda to step up and push the team forward.
“Last year, Yuki struggled with the car” Tost said. “This year, as I expect we will have quite a competitive car, Yuki must always aim to be in Qualifying 3 and finish the races in the points.
“He is a very highly skilled driver and now has a lot of experience with two seasons in Formula 1. For this reason, of course, he has to score many more points than he did last year.”
It’s a challenge Tsunoda is relishing having recaptured his confidence towards the end of 2022.
“I’m at a completely different level now, although I have still kept the good aspects of my first year,” Tsunoda said.
“But now, I am definitely more in control, more involved with the team when it comes to the development of the car and I also act differently, having learned lots of things, not just when it comes to racing but also in my life away from the track.
“Even that has a positive effect in how I race. I had underestimated what was involved, but now I’ve figured out the things that are really important.”
De Vries hungry to defy ‘old rookie’ tag
De Vries can be considered quite an old rookie at 28 years old, but he has an impressive resume, including a ninth-place finish in his sole F1 start with Williams at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman has always dreamed of joining the F1 ranks and is relishing the prospect of showing the world what he can do behind the wheel of the AT04.
“First of all, to get the opportunity to live my dream, but equally very excited and motivated to perform and to deliver,” De Vries said.
“I think partly because my journey has been slightly unusual and longer, I’m even more grateful for the opportunity, more motivated to grab it and hungrier to show what I’m worth.”