It may still be unclear if Pierre Gasly will remain at Alpha Tauri for 2023 or not. The Frenchman has a contract to do so but it is understood that he is keen to move to Alpine and the Red Bull owned Alpha Tauri would allow it as long as they had a replacement.
The team were looking at Colton Herta but that fell through due to a lack of FIA Super License points. Now there is some talk that Nyck de Vries might possibly be a consideration. All of that talk about replacing their number one driver has created a bit of a vacuum around their other driver, Yuki Tsunoda.
Team boss Franz Tost is not a one-trick pony, he can focus on two things at once, so I am sure he had good reason to announce today that the team have extended Tsunoda’s contract for 2023. Perhaps one simple element in the decision matrix is that it is better to be faced with trying to replace one driver than to be looking for two new drivers.
On one hand you might wonder why they would re-sign a driver who hasn’t scored points since May but on the other hand, if they are struggling to find a possible replacement for Gasly, finding two replacements might be more difficult.
The world isn’t short of young drivers who would like the chance to drive for Alpha Tauri. The bigger issue might be that Alpha Tauri is short of time and interest in making 2023 an all-rookie team.
“I want to say a huge thank you to Red Bull, Honda and Scuderia AlphaTauri for continuing to give me the opportunity to drive in F1,” said Tsunoda in a statement.
“Having moved to Italy last year, to be closer to the factory, I really feel part of the team and am glad that I get to carry on racing with them in 2023.
“Of course, our 2022 season isn’t over yet and we’re still pushing hard in the midfield battle, so I’m fully focused on finishing it on a high and then we will look forward to next year.”
He is not good enough to have the seat but keeping a Japanese driver in F1 is a trade for Honda continuing to support ‘Red Bull’s’ engine program, which they had wanted entirely to wash their hands of a couple years ago and announced they would but have agreed, serially each year after Yuki’s contract is renewed, to stay another year.