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2023 Performance Review: Alpha Tauri

Written by Jasmin Low, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

The 2023 F1 Season ended in November, and ever since, our Formula One writers have been hard at work, reviewing the drivers’ performances and rating them across a scale of ten. Our next review looks into the story of AlphaTauri's tumultous season in 2023, one that saw as many as four drivers drive the AT04 during the season.

Scuderia AlphaTauri had a rollercoaster of a season finishing eighth in the Constructors’ Championship on 25 points, just three shy of Williams in seventh place, and in front of the two Ferrari-powered HAAS and Alfa Romeo.

Whilst an improvement in championship position for the Italian-based team, their 2022 line-up managed to score 10 more championship points compared to 2023. 

AlphaTauri ran four drivers throughout the season, with Yuki Tsunoda being the constant, running alongside rookie Nyck de Vries whose career was cut short, being released from the team following the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, less than halfway through the season.

Daniel Ricciardo found himself under the spotlight again, loaned from Red Bull to their sister team. However, following an incident at Zandvoort, Ricciardo was sidelined again with seven fractures in his hand and wrist.

Red Bull junior Liam Lawson was called in for his Formula 1 debut, participating in five Grands-Prix before Ricciardo returned for the remainder of the season. 

AlphaTauri also looks to be undergoing some significant changes ahead of the 2024 season, with Team Principal Franz Tost stepping down and being replaced by Laurent Mekies, who is the former Ferrari Assistant Team Principal and Race Director.

The team is also rebranding for 2024, their name expected to become more similar to their sister team, like how it was called Toro Rosso until 2020. 

The season itself was disappointing for AlphaTauri, beginning the 2023 campaign with one of the worst-performing cars on the grid. The first half of the season was rough for the team, sitting dead last in the standings with just three points at the summer break, all coming from Tsunoda’s tenth place finishes in Australia, Azerbaijan, and Belgium.

The team turned their luck around in the latter end of the season, with more consistent points scoring finishes, not to mention Ricciardo’s seventh place finish in Mexico — the highest finish for the team for the year, which allowed the team to leapfrog Haas and Alfa Romeo in the Constructors’ Standings.

However, Team Principal Tost stated“I am not happy or proud – the target was to finish fifth in the constructors’ championship and we didn’t achieve this goal.”

Cumulative Rating: 4.75/10

Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda was the Italian outfit’s only driver who was in the car for all 22 Grands Prix. He came out on top of the qualifying head-to-head against all three of his teammates, leading De Vries 8-2, Lawson, 4-1, and Ricciardo 4-3.

His races followed a similar story, consistently finishing ahead of his teammates. The Japanese driver’s season was however, one of ups and downs, as his results on the fringes of the points at the beginning of the season took a downwards turn towards mid-season, as the car was still one of the worst on the grid, the Japanese driver finished further down in the pack, picking up a DNS and DNF in the consecutive races in Monza and Singapore.

However, a late points haul for Tsunoda with three points finishes in the final five races and a qualifying result in Abu Dhabi which saw him lineup in a personal best spot of sixth on the grid was vital to the team’s pursuits in the Constructors’ Championship, as well as his own championship, where he finished fourteenth overall with seventeen points.

This was an improvement compared to 2022, when he finished in seventeenth place with twelve points and was outdone by teammate Pierre Gasly who finished fourteenth with 23 points. In 2023, Tsunoda scored 68% of the total points scored for the team, and is expected to continue on with Alpha Tauri in 2024. 

Strengths: Yuki’s ability to showcase a strong qualifying in comparison to each of his teammates, as well as his improvement in race results compared to the 2022 season have been some of his best strengths in 2023. 

Weaknesses: Yuki’s season was inconsistent at times, where his results dropped toward the middle of the season, and although his end to the year was where he scored most of his points for the season, he also had a couple of DNFs during that period. 

Best Race: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; Tsunoda achieved his best-ever qualifying result of sixth, and executed a one-stop strategy to secure eight place in the Grand Prix, whilst being voted 'driver of the day' bringing home four points for the team. 

Cumulative Rating: 6.45/10

Daniel Ricciardo

2023 was looking like a year out of racing for the Australian as he linked back up with Red Bull as a reserve driver after a difficult 2022 campaign in which his contract with McLaren was terminated prematurely.

However, with the exit of Nyck de Vries from AlphaTauri, he was given the opportunity to race once more and therefore was ‘loaned’ by Red Bull to their sister team. Ricciardo donned the blue and white overalls for seven races throughout the season, with encouraging results in Hungary and Belgium before being sidelined until the US Grand Prix in Austin.

His best and only points-scoring result by far of the season began with a fourth-place grid slot in Mexico just behind Max Verstappen in the most dominant car on the grid. He would go on to cross the line in seventh place, earning six points.

Given that Ricciardo jumped in mid-season after taking time out of racing, it is impressive that he finished seventeenth in the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of full-time drivers Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen, and Logan Sargeant. Ricciardo completes Alpha Tauri’s driver lineup alongside Tsunoda for 2024. 

Strengths: Although Ricciardo had to return to Formula One and AlphaTauri mid-season and then return a second time after his injury, Ricciardo was able to adapt quickly to the car and to the feeling of racing again after time out. His adeptness and promising results have proven that he is still very much a capable driver. 

Weaknesses: Since Ricciardo spent so much time away from driving on-track and was then injured, it is difficult to compare his results to Tsunoda as he drove all 22 races compared to Ricciardo’s seven races.

However, he only scored points once after he qualified fourth in Mexico but then lost places during the race, and during the other six races he competed in, Ricciardo could not make up enough places to score points and qualified on the latter half of the grid. 

Best Race: Mexican Grand Prix; Ricciardo’s surprising qualifying which allowed him to line up on the second row of the grid as well as the best race result for the team was incredibly important for Ricciardo’s own championship and his confidence, as well as the team’s endeavours in the Constructors’ fight. 

Cumulative Score: 5.71/10


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