TEAM GUIDE: The essential lowdown on Italian team AlphaTauri as Tsunoda and De Vries prepare for 2023
AlphaTauri have a new driver for 2023, but how did Red Bull’s sister team begin life in F1? Here’s a brief guide on the Italian squad and their hopes for the season ahead.
Drivers for 2023
Nyck de Vries #21: 2 points, 1 Grand Prix start
Yuki Tsunoda #22: 44 points, 44 Grand Prix starts
Yuki Tsunoda jumped from Japanese F4 to Formula 1 with AlphaTauri within four years as the youngster managed three wins and P3 in his debut Formula 2 campaign.
The Honda-backed driver boasts a best race finish of fourth in his two seasons with the squad, and will be joined by a near-rookie, as Nyck de Vries has left the Mercedes family – for whom he was an F1 reserve and Formula E driver – for the Red Bull-powered team.
The 27-year-old Dutchman (28 as of February 6) won the 2020-21 Formula E Championship after taking the 2019 F2 title, and he made his F1 debut for Williams last year in place of Alex Albon.
AlphaTauri started 2022 as consistent points scorers when Tsunoda managed P8 in the season opener before Pierre Gasly – now at Alpine – took points at Jeddah and Melbourne, and Tsunoda backed that up with P7 at Imola.
From then on, the team struggled to hit the top 10 – their best result delivered by Gasly as he scored P5 at Baku – and they scored just five times in the second half of the season.
Tsunoda scored just once from Rounds 7-22, and the team finished ninth in the standings with 35 points to their tally, with the Japanese racer retained for 2023.
AlphaTauri’s roots lie in the Minardi team, who were formed at Faenza, Italy, in 1979 and made their F1 debut in 1985. In 1988 they scored their first F1 points thanks to Pierluigi Martini and thus began a promising period for the Italian minnows, who fielded the likes of Alex Zanardi, Michele Alboreto, Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella through the ‘90s.
Fernando Alonso made his F1 debut with the team in 2001, the year that Paul Stoddart took over the team, and at the end of 2005 the squad was sold to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and renamed Toro Rosso.
They would serve as a Red Bull feeder squad, the likes of Sebastian Vettel – who took a famous Toro Rosso win at Monza in 2008 – Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen all graduating to the senior outfit.
In 2020, they re-branded as AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s fashion label. Still based at Faenza, they are currently the only ‘customer’ team of Red Bull Powertrains – but carry Honda branding, just as Red Bull do.
Pierre Gasly’s victory in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix marked the fashion brand’s debut F1 season in style.
AlphaTauri’s 35-point haul in 2022 was their lowest in three years, and the team will be looking to get back to the points.
De Vries is proven in junior series and Formula E, and there’s little doubt that he’s a solid hire for the team headed by Franz Tost – but De Vries’s appointment will only pile more pressure on Tsunoda.
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The Japanese driver scored just 12 points last season, and with Gasly gone, Tsunoda will need to step up and show he’s ready to lead the team.
They do have a class-leading power unit with Red Bull, but with the likes of Aston Martin, Haas and Alfa Romeo around them, AlphaTauri might be facing an uphill battle to place better than ninth in 2023.