‘AlphaTauri’s main worry is the driver pairing’

Total-Motorsport.com take a closer look at what to expect from AlphaTauri ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season

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AlphaTauri had one of their worst seasons in Formula 1 in 2022, since the Red Bull junior team was formed 17 years ago under the Toro Rosso name, as they finished ninth in the constructors’ championship.

Pierre Gasly has left the team to join Alpine so Nyck de Vries will make his full season debut following his impressive one-off appearance at last year’s Italian Grand Prix for Williams. Yuki Tsunoda will spend a third season at AlphaTauri.

Back in 2006, team principal Franz Tost said Toro Rosso would target fifth in the constructors’ standings. They are still yet to achieve that top five, so will this season be their year?

Total-Motorsport.com journalists Adam Dickinson, Andrew Wright, Ed Spencer and Nigel Chiu take a look at what to expect from AlphaTauri in 2023.

Nigel Chiu: A rollercoaster season

AlphaTauri must move up the pecking order this year and I think they will, as they can copy some, not all, of the technical excellence from the 2022 Red Bull machine.

It’s a fascinating driver line-up as Tsunoda has a make or break campaign ahead of him. He is so talented and his rise in junior single-seaters was exceptional, having raced in Europe for the first time in 2019 before finding himself in F1 just two years later.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in the paddock REUTERS/Mike Blake

I always think people underestimate the challenge for a driver from Asia to come over to Europe and adapt to the very different culture, away from their family and friends. Then, having to learn all of the tracks too, whilst impressing in a new car.

At some point though, you have to deliver and I think Tsunoda will do that this year against De Vries, who had perhaps an unexpected opportunity to race in F1. This will be a rollercoaster season for both drivers, but Tsunoda will come out on top.

Ed Spencer: Tsunoda needs to iron out mistakes

It’s a new era at AlphaTauri. Gasly is gone after six years of service, and in comes Dutch hotshot De Vries, finally grasping his long overdue F1 chance with both hands and legs.

De Vries may be a rookie, but many already expect him to lead the team, which puts further pressure on Tsunoda, who needs a good season to save his F1 career.

Tsunoda showed progress last year, but it may not be enough with a slew of junior drivers snapping at his heels, and he’ll need to iron out the mistakes which have previously effected his confidence.

Neither driver will be able to show much talent if the new car is a terrible twin of last year’s chariot, which neither Gasly or Tsunoda managed to get the hang of putting extra pressure on the team.

2023 will be a big season at Faenza.

Adam Dickinson: De Vries needs to match consistency with undoubted talent

One of the biggest disappointments in 2022, AlphaTauri need a bounce back year but they should have everything in place to do that off-track.

Their ninth-placed finish was a repeat of their 2018 season but they came charging back the next season, finishing sixth and landing two podium finishes. They can replicate that in 2023 provided they have more direction and joined-up thinking from upgrade to upgrade.

One key difference is the driver lineup though – they managed that stellar 2019 season with Daniil Kvyat, Alex Albon and Gasly but Tsunoda’s likely in a prove it or lose it season and De Vries needs to match consistency with his undoubted talent to thrive in 2023.

The new Scuderia AlphaTauri Formula 1 car at the Scuderia AlphaTauri Season Launch at Lincoln Center in New York (Colin Kerrigan/Red Bull Content Pool)

Andrew Wright: Main worry is the driver pairing

It can’t be worse, surely? It was a case of all style but no substance in 2022 for AlphaTauri, as the team scored just 35 points, down 107 from the previous campaign. 

Some of that can be put down to the massive regulation changes but no such excuses will fly in 2023.

I do, however, anticipate the team will bounce back to an extent and learn from some of their mistakes. Instead, my main worry is about the driver pairing.

The departure of Gasly means it’s time for Tsunoda to step up and cut out the rookie errors. The problem is that nothing he has done to this point fills me with confidence that he will break his frustrating inconsistency. 

Then there is the unknown of De Vries. He is undoubtedly deserving of a chance in F1 but prowess in other categories is no guarantee of success in the big leagues.

Overall, I expect the Red Bull sister team to have a better car in 2023 but watch on in frustration as their drivers struggle to get the most out of it. If I had to put a number on it – seventh place.

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiuhttps://total-motorsport.com/author/nigel-chiu/
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports F1 where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
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