AlphaTauri want experience: “We can’t only develop young drivers”

Four drivers have driven for AlphaTauri in 2023, yet none of them have received a contract guaranteeing their place for next season. A broken metacarpal put Daniel Ricciardo out of action in Zandvoort, interrupting his F1 return. Fortunately for the Australian, there are indications he will be given more opportunities.

Nyck de Vries was signed by Red Bull to lead AlphaTauri, with Helmut Marko confident in the Dutchman’s potential. However, it was quickly determined that another driver would perform better in the AT04.

Rather than selecting a Red Bull academy driver as a replacement, it was decided that 8-time race winner Ricciardo deserved another opportunity.

Taking into account Perez’s struggles against Max Verstappen, the Austrian team seemed intent on preparing viable alternatives. Clearly, an in-form Daniel Ricciardo would be a great asset.

However, the increasingly dependable Yuki Tsunoda proved more than a match for the slightly rusty 34-year-old. Moreover, the arrival of fast-learning Liam Lawson, on paper, gives AlphaTauri two promising drivers to invest in.

After all, AlphaTauri is intended to develop young drivers… at least on paper.

In a recent interview, AlphaTauri’s CEO – Peter Bayer – threw a curveball into calculations for the team’s 2024 driver line-up:

“My belief is that… obviously, we cannot only develop young drivers. We also have to be competitive,” Bayed outlined.

“I think, to be competitive nowadays, you need… to have one experienced driver and one young one,” Planet F1 quotes him as saying.

“Because then the young one will learn more from the experienced one, the experienced one will help us.

“For example, Daniel helped us tremendously with setting up the car.”

Although Tsunoda is now in his third season, Bayer’s statements suggest that Ricciardo is the driver he perceives as experienced.

The 23-year-old driver is still learning and, despite comfortably outperforming De Vries, should be expected to progress.

Unfortunately for the Japanese driver and his new teammate, Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri seems to be questioning its traditional model of nurturing young talent.

The experienced Ricciardo – injury or not – is still highly regarded by Red Bull.

This could mean that both Tsunoda and Lawson are competing directly against one another for a 2024 agreement. Then again, it would be unwise to make any assumptions about the Red Bull camp’s driver selection.

Perhaps that is the key takeaway from Bayer’s analysis. Any driver – whether experienced or a rookie –  may be considered or discarded at AlphaTauri.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang