Tsunoda confirmed

There are now – in theory at least – just four of the 20 seats available for 2023. The signing of Yuki Tsunoda was no great surprise. Tsunoda is a Honda favourite and obviously very fast, but he has still has a lot to do before he becomes a candidate for anything other than an AlphaTauri drive. It is hard to imagine him moving up to Red Bull Racing to partner Max Verstappen. It is only a problem if things go wrong, but F1 teams must always look at what might happen if things do go awry.

Red Bull has Max Verstappen under contract until 2028, although there are almost certainly performance clauses in the deal if the team does not achieve certain goals. Sergio Perez has a contract until the end of 2024. This too will have performance clauses but what these might be is currently unclear. It is probably something like Sergio having to finish above a certain position in the Drivers’ championship. At the moment he is third and has collected 210 points. This compares poorly to Max Verstappen’s 335 points, but it is enough to mean that the team leads the Constructors’ Championship by 545 to 406. Sergio is within striking distance of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (who is second in the championship with 219 points) but is still under threat from the hyper-reliable George Russell, who has 203 points to his name. But could Perez be as competitive as Verstappen if the Dutchman was not there? This is why Red Bull confirmed Pierre Gasly for another season back in the early summer. They know that Pierre will leave in 2024 and so they are looking for someone to replace him and Dr Helmut Marko wants someone good.

Red Bull currently has four drivers in Formula 2: the best-placed in the championship is fifth-placed India’s Jehan Daruvala. He is in his third full Formula 2 season and coming up to 24 years of age and it is hard for an F1 team to get excited about someone who finishes fifth in the championship at their third attempt. The same can be said for seventh-placed Liam Lawson, at the end of his second full season. The best of the rookies is Honda protege Ayumu Iwasa, who is eighth in the championship, while Norway’s Dennis Hauger has had a disappointing year and is only 11th in the title race. One might also mention the 10th-place Estonian Juri Vips but he has blotted his copybook by making a racial slur during an online gaming stream. His future is, at best, clouded because without Red Bull support he is going to struggle to achieve much.

Marko’s focus (although this changes quite rapidly) is currently on Formula 3 hotshoe Isack Hadjar, who was in the running for the title until the last race weekend and ended up fourth. Hadjar is expected to move up to Formula 2 in 2023 and if he does well Marko hopes to take him into F1.

The recent weeks have seen much speculation that Marko would only release Gasly for Alpine if he could get IndyCar driver Colton Herta. This was very odd for a lot of reasons. Herta did not have a super licence, is under contract in IndyCar for 2023 and had a testing programme planned with McLaren. One might argue that Marko was never really serious and was simply stirring things up with McLaren and Alpine, or to divert attention away from the melt down between Porsche and Red Bull. Perhaps Marko does rate Herta highly, but he also knows that bringing in someone without a comprehensive European racing background is going to be a massive challenge.

It is fairly clear that Alfa Romeo is going to stick with Guanyu Zhou for a second season.

The Alpine seat vacated by Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri (in quick succession) is still available. The team has Jack Doohan (who does have a super licence) on its books, although he may not be quite ready. There is also Nyck de Vries, Mick Schumacher, Antonio Giovinazzi and… Pierre Gasly.

Getting Pierre involves a lot of effort. It does not help that Esteban Ocon and Pierre do not get on.

At the moment everyone is talking about de Vries, but it has time to see if American Logan Sargeant can qualify for a super licence. He has done well, battling for third in the championship (and the best rookie spot) with Doohan. It would give Williams a young charger to learn from Alex Albon… and an American at that.

Haas is waiting to see what happens and does not need to commit to anyone for the moment at least.

37 thoughts on “Tsunoda confirmed

  1. It seems absolutely insane that Renault would rather sign a rookie, an average Gasley or Hulkenburg rather than Riccardo.

    I know he’s damaged goods but we all know he’s a special driver.

  2. From a fan (Alpine) standpoint, Alpine going for Pierre Gasly – on the basis to appease the experienced driver requisite – is obviously not so clear cut. And your post today highlights a different dilemma on Pierre’s part I had not thought of…

    Is he so eager to leave his Alpha seat for Alpine if there’s even a chance for the RB seat in ’24 if Perez doesn’t measure up during ’23, triggering a favorable RB break due to clauses? The knock-on effect working against Alpine in this situation is not being able to lockdown PG long-term.

    If this is the case, then this is the frustrating part (being an Alpine fan), not understanding any undue effort to bring him in when there are already (two) viable options:

    1) Bring back Daniel (even in spite of his unceremonious departure). He most certainly checks the experience driver box that Rossi covets. Pat Fry mentioned in a 2020 interview (not verbatim) that Daniel was exceptional and really drove the RS20/A521 development direction (see the ’20 Silverstone car update/development). He comes back and partners with an improving Ocon, who in his own right, is also capable of leading the team. After all, Rossi had to see this in Ocon to have had signed him up through ’24. Here, Alpine F1 would have two experienced drivers that are both capable of at least keeping the A523 in the points and maintain 4/5 positions in WCC.

    2) Get over the inhibitions, or the need to bring in another experience driver, when you already have Ocon (see above) locked in – especially if bringing in a PG can upset the team’s overall dynamics. Let Ocon lead the fast young charger in Jack Doohan. There is a lot of positives from bringing Jack up…mainly, bringing credence to your own driver academy.

    Now, for my own fantastical notion(s)….that still involves Daniel, Esteban, Jack, and a certain SLH. Esteban’s recent quoted comments in the media about how he rates himself as a teammate compared to Alonso’s previous teammates is beginning to tell another story. He’ is trying to secure his future now for post ’24. Perhaps, he’s angling for the Merc seat in the event Lewis hangs it up after ’23. Say this happens and Ocon gets that seat at Merc.

    Alpine can bring Daniel in now, for the ’23 seat and let Jack marinate in F2 one more season to partner Daniel from ’24 onward. Or hire Jack for the ’23 seat and bring back Daniel after a one year sabbatical. Either way in these scenarios, this is likely Daniel’s last rodeo and he will likely be motivated to make the very best of the opportunity. This thought is credible due to articles that came out in the media a few days before Alonso’s AM announcement. The articles all mentioned how Daniel has already been mentoring Jack and Jack rates Daniel as a very close mate…even Jack’s Dad considers Daniel important for Jack’s career progression.

    At face value, a Jack and Daniel lineup for Alpine has the potential to be very dynamic as the team progresses through its 100 race win plan – setting up Daniel for a real WDC challenge or, capitalize on Jack’s potential of becoming the next great young driver….and all of this doesn’t even evolve dealing with RB’s and Gasly’s situation….or eww, even entertaining a Giovinassi or a Hulkenberg return to the grid (in Alpine Blue).

    Parting shot….Congrats to Yuki for the ’23 drive. He deserves it!

    1. I’m sorry but I don’t see reality in almost any of this.

      There is no way they would have two Australians in the team at the same time!

  3. De Vries seems perfect for Alpine, probably would outperform Piastri next year. Look at the constructors standings, the 4 factory teams and the fighters for scraps.

  4. Interesting you’re not mentioning Ricciardo. Is there a reason besides pride (Alpine) that he’s not in the conversation?

  5. Joe, I note that Daniel Ricciardo is notably absent from your list of available drivers, and he has been quoted in the press as “being okay taking a year off if the right opportunity doesn’t materialize”. As one of the most-liked drivers in the paddock, is the feeling that he would be better served with a sabbatical to get his head back into the right space, or do you think his time in F1 has come to a conclusion?

  6. Hey Joe. Why is seemingly everyone shying away from Danny Ric? It’s almost as if he’s some kind of pariah. Having Alonso on my team scares me more than Ricciardo. The move to McLaren has almost crushed him, but it’s just a matter of confidence. Can you possibly shed some light on the issue?

  7. It´s said, Drugovich has an AM contract possibility to jump in one of these seats. Isn´t he a better prospect for Marko than his academy drivers?

    1. No he isn’t.
      And i’d be surprised if MP are in the title hunt again next year having been also rans for years.

      Top outfits like ART and Prena can’t even win consistently.

      2018 aside, i’m not sure F2 is as an accurate barometer of talent as most people think.

  8. I’m not sure why Williams (and Marko) don’t give Drugovich a chance. I’m sure he could walk away from the Aston Martin testing role if given a race seat…

    1. Thats what i´ve saying for a long time. But everybody seens so skeptcal about him. That guy vanished a field filled with great prospects, in a midfield car. Some may argue its his 3rd year, but he did way more than his obligation, agree? He dominated!

  9. Joe I agree with pretty much all of that, thanks for the run down.
    However I do think Lawson is a lot better than his position in the F2 standings.
    He’s had reliability and consistency issues this year, the majority of which have been outside his control.
    At least 2 wins were lost through break downs or some odd pit/strategy errors.
    Whether Marko keeps him on for a 3rd year remains to be seen. Maybe he could join compatriots Dixon and McGlaughlin in Indycar?

    I like Gasly but I can’t see why any team would break the bank to sign him, especially Alpine. I think whoever gets that drive will be offered a 1 year deal with an option for a 2nd. Gives them the chance to assess their juniors a bit more or try and get a bigger name to lead the line up in 2024.

  10. That’s a good summary, stripping away the enormous idle speculation that’s going around at the moment.

    I’ve not bought into any of the various Colton Herta rumours. They only made sense IF he was a standout talent which most signs indicate he isnt.

    After giving him a test, McLaren decided to pursue Piastri as reserve over him.
    He had a great IndyCar season last year but this year he was no more convincing than O’Ward and Palou.

    Maybe he’s just not that good?

    I wonder if Dr Marko would be interested in Ricciardo filling a potentially vacant AT seat and returning to the Red Bull farm.
    A 2023 race drive that should be more competitive next season, plus its a better opportunity to pressure to Perez’s RBR drive.
    It could work and seems more realistic than waiting for Sir Lewis to retire.

  11. Quote from autosport.com : “ And if De Vries is worth some serious F1 attention, please could someone in the F1 paddock take a fresh look at the man who’s outperformed him for much of their time as Mercedes Formula E team-mates? What Stoffel Vandoorne could do in a different F1 environment feels like a frustratingly unanswered question in itself now. “

    Dear Joe what has Stoffel done so wrong that nobody is even mentioning him ? The guy is F3 – F2 and FE world champion. Please help me understand this. Thanks.

  12. A 22-year-old who has won seven races in IndyCar not being able to qualify to race in F1 damages the credibility of the sport.

    The mystique of F1 relies on the notion that it’s the best drivers in the fastest cars. Giving 3rd place in a feeder series of inexperienced drivers, many of whom are paying to play, the same number of Super License points as winning the IndyCar championship undermines this possibility. When Colton Herta can’t drive but Latifi, Mazepin, and Sargeant can, you don’t have the best drivers in the world in F1. Ironically, the system was created in part to keep people like Verstappen from competing at 17 years old… but a huge objective was to enrich the leaders of F2 and F3 as well. It’s making someone money in the short term, but it’ll cost F1 a lot over time if they don’t re-establish integrity here.

    Obviously there have been pay drivers since the beginning of racing, but we should keep improving. Disappointing outcome in the driver lineup for next year when there was an opportunity for real excitement. We will not be seeing the best in the world competing.

    1. Let’s not overlook the fact that neither Kimi Raikkonen nor Max Verstappen would be eligible for a Super License under the present rules.

  13. Ricciardo is:

    – an 8x race winner
    – sponsor’s dream
    – didn’t leave Renault under THAT much of a dark cloud
    – doesn’t need paying (in fact, he could even afford to pay for his drive) as McLaren is paying him NOT to drive for them next year…

    So, like many others, I simply can’t understand why he isn’t a shoo-in at Alpine.

    It seems like another Alpine driver-market blunder to me…

  14. why Alpine wouldn’t offer Riccardo a 1yr deal and why he wouldn’t take it is beyond me? It seems to solve everyone’s problem til Herta can get a SL in 2024.

  15. Indy: “ours is the toughest series in the world, where driver talent matters more than the car”

    also Indy “yeh he only came tenth but give him a shot anyway”

  16. If I was Alpine I’d be on the phone to Will Power for a one year deal. Assuming he has interest in such a thing and Roger would agree to it he’d do great. Even in his forties he’s scoring pole after pole in a one make series and has shown the maturity this year to seal the deal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s