AlphaTauri F1 Rewards Yuki Tsunoda With Contract Extension

Photo credit: ATPImages - Getty Images
Photo credit: ATPImages - Getty Images

Yuki Tsunoda will remain with AlphaTauri into 2023, with the squad’s team principal Franz Tost reckoning that is the timeframe for a youngster to show their full potential.

Tsunoda, 22, debuted with AlphaTauri—Red Bull’s junior team—in 2021, having surged through Formula 4, Formula 3 and Formula 2 in successive years.

Tsunoda had a rollercoaster rookie season, trailing experienced teammate Pierre Gasly and suffering several accidents, but capped the campaign with a career-best fourth in Abu Dhabi. Tsunoda has smoothed some of those rough edges through 2022 but has scored points in only three races amid AlphaTauri’s lack of competitiveness under Formula 1’s new regulations.

Tsunoda is currently 16th the F1 Drivers' Standings after finishing 14th last season. He has failed to finish in the top 10 and score points in his last 10 races.

Photo credit: Peter Fox - Getty Images
Photo credit: Peter Fox - Getty Images

The Japanese youngster had widely been expected to stay for 2023 and on Thursday AlphaTauri formally communicated those plans.

“As we’ve seen since he joined us last year, Yuki is a very talented driver and has improved a lot this season,” said Tost. “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. (Helmut) Marko and his driver program that we’re able to bring these young talents up from the junior categories and develop them.”

AlphaTauri—and predecessor Toro Rosso—has long been a starting point for young Red Bull-backed drivers, with the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz all honing their craft at the team.

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The identity of Tsunoda’s 2023 teammate remains uncertain despite Pierre Gasly holding a contract, which was announced earlier in the season.

Gasly is of interest to Alpine, which remains without a partner for Esteban Ocon after Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin and Oscar Piastri’s switch to McLaren, but he will only be released by AlphaTauri if a suitable replacement can be found.

Plans to swoop for Colton Herta fell through amid a lack of Super Licence points while it is understood AlphaTauri has identified Nyck de Vries, who acted as a super sub for Williams in Italy, as a potential candidate.