Voices in the paddock have been saying that Yuki Tsunoda’s seat at AlphaTauri may be at risk for the 2024 season
Rumors fly fast inside the Formula 1 paddock; unfortunately for Yuki Tsunoda, this one hits a little closer to home. AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer seems intent on assembling a combination of youth and experience for the 2024 line-up. In fact, the CEO takes Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson into consideration for the line-up. However, to view the young Japanese driver as inexperienced would be quite foolish for the Italian team.
AlphaTauri in 2023
Up until now, the 2023 season has not been one to remember for AlphaTauri. As of now, Yuki Tsunoda is the only point-scorer on the Italian team this season. Despite this, a series of unexpected events is putting his F1 future at risk. At the start of the season, the lineup was formed by Tsunoda and Dutch driver Nyck de Vries. De Vries was previously World Champion of the 2020-2021 season in Formula E with Mercedes. In addition, he was originally introduced to Formula 1 at the Italian Grand Prix in 2022 as a substitute for Alex Albon in Williams.
Despite his convincing performance at Monza that landed him the seat at AlphaTauri, he was unfairly replaced by Daniel Ricciardo after just 10 races, following the British Grand Prix. Ricciardo was then meant to conclude the season with the Faenza-based team. During the free practices of the Dutch Grand Prix Ricciardo unfortunately collided with the circuit barriers thus suffering a fracture in his right hand.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 8, 2023
AlphaTauri gave New Zealander test driver Liam Lawson the chance to replace him. With a 13th and an 11th place finish at the Dutch Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix. For his first-ever races in Formula 1, this result convinced not only the team but also the audience at home. Could this however grant him Yuki Tsunoda’s 2024 seat at AlphaTauri?
What does the future hold for AlphaTauri?
Right now for the Italian team, the sky is the limit. In fact, there are quite a few possibilities for next year. Keeping Yuki Tsunoda seems like the logical option for AlphaTauri. Although Tsunoda is still quite young, having debuted in Formula 1 in 2021, his experience with the team does not lack.
The young Japanese driver debuted in Formula 1 in 2021 with AlphaTauri alongside Pierre Gasly. Even though this is Tsnunoda’s third year in the sport AlphaTauri has been like a home to him. But has the time come to start looking elsewhere for the young pilot? Tsunoda has not expressed himself on the matter but AlphaTauri CEO certainly has.
“You need to have one experienced driver and one young one. That’s really what I’m trying to achieve, you know. To have an experienced one and a young one… Daniel [Ricciardo] helped us tremendously on setting up the car.”
A few months ago no one suspected that Yuki Tsunoda’s seat could be at risk for 2024. However, these recent developments seem to be concerning. Sure, Tsunoda was kind of dismissed at the beginning of the season, but no one expected that his role in the team could be questioned. The excessive expectations set on De Vries, the reluctance to offer Tsunoda a contract for 2024 over the summer, and Peter Bayer’s recent statements suggest only one thing.
Despite Tsunoda’s praise-worthy performances, CEO Peter Bayer allegedly has his sights on Ricciardo and Lawson. Could this mean another driver swap for the Faenza-based team? Until the last few races, no one questioned Tsunoda’s place in the team. But as Christian Horner and Helmut Marko’s praising comments, in addition to Bayer’s latest interviews, towards Daniel Ricciardo grow exponentially nothing is for certain. However, Tsunoda has demonstrated throughout this season his capabilities and potential. Right now rumors are just rumors and only time is going to tell what does the future hold for Yuki Tsunoda.