AlphaTauri announced this morning that Yuki Tsunoda will be staying on with them next year for his third season in Formula 1.
The Japanese driver joined the Italian based team in 2021 after a strong season in Formula 2 and while it wasn’t the smoothest of starts, Tsunoda did get to grips with the series by the end and outqualified his teammate for the first time before taking a P4 finish at the final race in Abu Dhabi.
“I want to say a huge thank you to Red Bull, Honda and Scuderia AlphaTauri for continuing to give me the opportunity to drive in F1,” Tsunoda said. “Having moved to Italy last year, to be closer to the factory, I really feel part of the team and am glad that I get to carry on racing with them in 2023.
“Of course, our 2022 season isn’t over yet and we’re still pushing hard in the midfield battle, so I’m fully focused on finishing it on a high and then we will look forward to next year.”
The AlphaTauri Team Principal, Franz Tost, praised the 22 year old’s talent saying that he had improved greatly since he joined the team but Tost would still be looking for good results in the remainder of the current season.
“As we’ve seen since he joined us last year,” Yost said, “Yuki is a very talented driver and has improved a lot this season. The pace he has shown recently is clear evidence of a steep learning curve, which proves he deserves a seat in F1, and I still expect some strong results from him in the last six races of 2022.
“As I always say, a driver needs at least three years to fully get to grips with Formula 1, so I’m pleased he’s been given the time to show his full potential. In addition, it’s a testament to Dr. Marko and his driver programme that we’re able to bring these young talents up from the junior categories and develop them.
“I’d like to join Yuki in thanking Red Bull and AlphaTauri, as well as Honda, for their continuous support and for allowing him to stay with us for another year.”
Who Tsunoda will be driving alongside next year is not completely certain yet. While Pierre Gasly was announced with the team during the summer, Sebastian Vettel’s decision to retire kicked off an interesting midfield jumble. It led to Fernando Alonso jumping to the vacated Aston Martin seat, Oscar Piastri being announced as the Spaniard’s replacement before more chaos started ending with Piastri joining McLaren.
That left a spare seat at Alpine and Gasly is still one of those in the running for it with Red Bull prepared to release him as long as they were happy they had a replacement line up. IndyCar driver Colton Herta had been their preference but that fell through as he would have needed an exception to the FIA Super License system as IndyCar does not award as many points as F2 so he would have been a few short of the threshold required.