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After a disappointing 2022 season and amid sales rumours, AlphaTauri enters 2023 in a much different position compared to a year ago. Can Red Bull’s B team recover its old form and go toe-to-toe with the other mid-field teams?
Things are always changing – and fast – in motorsports. Four years ago, Toro Rosso was on the rise again. The Italian outfit had scored its first podium since Sebastian Vettel’s famous 2008 Italian Grand Prix win. Then, in 2020, the newly-rebranded AlphaTauri scored a shock win – again at Monza, this time with Pierre Gasly. And in 2021, the team matched its previous best result in the constructors’ standings, finishing sixth in points.
But it all went wrong in 2022. The Faenza squad endured its worst season in a decade, finishing all the way down in ninth. It didn’t go unnoticed for AlphaTauri’s parent company, with Red Bull’s consultant Helmut Marko voicing the Austrian company’s dissatisfaction. Sales rumours were also floating around, leaving the Italian team in a difficult situation heading into the new season.
Can AlphaTauri find a way to rebound and go back to being a competitive mid-field team? Or will it endure another frustrating season, hanging around the bottom of the field?
Formula One AlphaTauri 2023 Team Preview: A Return to Form or Another Disappointing Season?
|2022 Constructors’ Standings||9th (35 points)|
AlphaTauri looked all set to fight for the top 5 in the constructors’ standings last year. After all, the Italian team was coming off a solid sixth place in 2021, had a promising driver pairing and was one of the leading teams in the middle of the pack.
Everything went wrong following the change in regulations. AlphaTauri got its AT03 car completely wrong, struggling from the start of pre-season testing.
The Italian squad managed to save a few points in the early races, with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda scoring six point finishes between themselves over the first eight races. Gasly’s impressive fifth place finish at the Baku Street Circuit was their highlight of the season.
However, AlphaTauri simply wasn’t able to keep up with the competition, managing only four finishes inside the points over the last 14 races. Three of them were courtesy of Gasly, while Tsunoda could only manage a single tenth place.
The top of the mid-field looks to be off-target right now. Aston Martin and Alpine are well ahead of the rest. For AlphaTauri, chasing after Haas seems to be a more realistic goal to start off the year. Will Red Bull’s B team overcome its own limitations and climb up to seventh in the constructors’ standings?
AlphaTauri Drivers in F1 2023
Pierre Gasly left AlphaTauri for Alpine. Yuki Tsunoda was awarded a second chance with a contract extension, but the Japanese driver is definitely on the hot-seat for 2023. Former F2 and F-E champion Nyck de Vries was hired as Gasly’s replacement. The Dutch driver impressed as a super-sub for Alex Albon at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, scoring a ninth place finish.
|2022 Drivers’ Standings||17th (12 points)|
Tsunoda’s raw speed is undeniable. The 22-year old from Kanagawa prefecture has, however, struggled to keep his temperament in check. Tsunoda’s radio outbursts have been well-known since his F2 days. On track, the Japanese driver has yet to strike the right balance between speed and consistency.
Tsunoda’s two years have been marked by impressive drives – like his close fight with Alonso on his debut race in Bahrain 2021 – and avoidable crashes caused by pushing too hard – look no further than Canada and Singapore in 2022.
Marko and AlphaTauri’s team boss Franz Tost have made it clear that Tsunoda must show some improvement in 2023 to retain his seat. Even if the team doesn’t provide a particularly competitive car, the young Japanese has to at least avoid making the same costly mistakes.
Whether Tsunoda takes up the mantle of team leader remains to be seen. But it would definitely be a shame if the fast and talented youngster was let go by the Red Bull programme at the end of the year.
Nyck de Vries
|2022 Drivers’ Standings||21st (2 points)|
The F1 door looked to be firmly shut for de Vries. A superstar in karting and former McLaren junior, the Dutchman had a few disappointing years in the feeder series before finally finding his stride in 2019. De Vries won the F2 title that year, landing a seat with Mercedes in F-E.
He also took on a reserve role for the F1 team, combining it with full season campaigns in the WEC and ELMS. De Vries was also the test and reserve driver for Toyota in LMP1.
The Dutchman won the 2020-21 F-E title before moving on to become a full-time test and reserve driver in F1. De Vries worked closely with Mercedes’ customer teams, leading to an unexpected call-up to serve as Alexander Albon’s emergency replacement at the Italian Grand Prix.
Despite being rushed into the spot, de Vries delivered a superb drive on the way to ninth, scoring two points and throwing his name into the mix for a 2023 drive. Once Gasly left for Alpine, the F1 door finally opened for the 28-year old from Uitwellingerga.
Although he is still new to F1, de Vries has plenty of experience from other series. It probably won’t take that long for the Dutchman to adapt and challenge Tsunoda. The biggest question is whether or not AlphaTauri will deliver a competitive car this time.
F1 AlphaTauri Car 2023 – The AT04
take it in from all angles, the new AT04 has arrived! 🤙 pic.twitter.com/Dw1eC0lueH— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) February 11, 2023
One of AlphaTauri’s biggest problems in 2022 was the lack of downforce. The AT03 struggled at high-speed corners, and often had to sacrifice its straight line speed to make up for it.
The AT04 brings a completely different design philosophy. Although the 2023 aero rules are essentially the same as in 2022, there was one noticeable change – the diffuser had to be raised by 10mm to reduce porpoising. Most teams have tried to make up for this loss in downforce by raising the car’s sidepods, and AlphaTauri followed the trend.
The new AlphaTauri F1 car has a much narrower intake, while the reprofiled sidepods allow more space for the air to flow towards the rear. On the other hand, the new AT04 did retain its predecessor’s ramp design, staying in line with Red Bull’s design.
AlphaTauri also made some radical changes to the front of the car. The AT03 was one of two cars, along with Aston Martin, to adopt a raised center section on its front wing. It also ran a flat nose, with its tip extending beyond the wing’s main plane. It didn’t work the way the team expected, and AlphaTauri ended up dropping it for a more conventional design from Singapore onwards. The Faenza squad retained its late-season design, extending the tip of the nose all the way to the main plane but not past it, while also lowering the wing’s center section.
AlphaTauri wasn’t particularly impressive during pre-season testing, as the AT04 ran closer to the second half of the timesheet.
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