Who will drive for Alpha Tauri in 2022?
Gasly will be back at AlphaTauri in 2022. The Frenchman had an excellent season last year, which led to him hoping for another chance at Red Bull in the summer. Nothing could have been further from the truth, however, as the Austrian team kept their faith in Sergio Perez. As a result, Gasly will also be at AlphaTauri next season.
The driver is preparing for his second season with Tsunoda. The Japanese driver started the Bahrain Grand Prix very promisingly but was unable to maintain the level of performance. Tsunoda therefore came in for a lot of criticism and developed himself over the course of the season. In 2022, he must show what he has learned.
Training team and guinea pig
In 2005 the ailing Minardi was given a helping hand from Dietrich Mateschitz, the big boss of the Austrian energy drink manufacturer Red Bull. At that time Red Bull had just completed their first season in Formula 1, but Mateschitz wanted more. Like its sister team Red Bull, Toro Rosso's first seasons were difficult.
They were stuck with the Cosworth engine, which had been taken over from Minardi's contract. Although the V10 seemed to be an advantage at first (from 2006 the V8 was obligatory unless approval was given to teams with less money: something Minardi and thus Toro Rosso could take advantage of), the teams with a V8 in the back made much bigger steps.
With big brother Red Bull switching to Renault engines, Toro Rosso were handed the discarded Ferrari contract. With the Ferrari engine and Sebastian Vettel (replacing Scott Speed) fresh from Sauber, Toro Rosso managed to finish fourth in China. It was the best result to date, in only their second season in Formula One.
The first problems for Toro Rosso arose in 2007, when the FIA announced that teams could no longer receive a similar car 'as a gift' from a sister team. As Red Bull and Toro Rosso were using such a construction, Mateschitz put the team on sale.
One season later, with Toro Rosso still for sale, Sebastian Vettel turned the world upside down. The German not only took pole position at his home race (Toro Rosso was racing under an Italian licence) at Monza, but also won the race. It was a performance that saw the young Vettel promoted to Red Bull in 2009.
After Sebastian Vettel's promotion, Red Bull began using Toro Rosso on a regular basis to acclimatise drivers to Formula One before they made the big move. Sebastien Buemi joined the programme in 2009, as did Jaime Alguersuari in 2011.
The team sidelined both in 2012 to give Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne a chance. ‘We are a training school for rookies', said team principal Franz Tost. That same year, technical director James Key also stepped aboard to give the team a push in the right direction.
Vergne and Ricciardo were also given seats in 2013, a year in which Mark Webber announced he was throwing in the towel after the final race. The battle between Vergne and Ricciardo to claim the place at Red Bull had begun, with Ricciardo putting his best foot forward at the right time. He brought in Daniil Kvyat (aka 'The Torpedo') as Ricciardo's replacement, with Vergne starting his third season at Toro Rosso in 2014.
The brief era of Verstappen
One week before the Belgian GP, Vergne received the bad news: he was entering his final season at Toro Rosso and would be replaced by Verstappen in 2015. The Dutchman was only sixteen years old at the time, but would get the chance to prove himself at a young age. That didn't happen alongside Kvyat, as the Russian moved on to Red Bull to replace the departing Vettel.
Vergne hoped to stay at Toro Rosso, but Red Bull chose otherwise. The team appointed Carlos Sainz to keep Verstappen company (future teammate Pierre Gasly was also on the list of candidates). A golden choice, as it turned out, with Verstappen twice finishing fourth in his first season and collecting 49 points. Sainz had to settle for 18 points.
After one year and a few races in 2016, Kvyat had to make the move back to Toro Rosso and Verstappen took the spot at Red Bull. That season, Red Bull's sister team failed to impress with the all-new car (to accommodate Ferrari's new engine) and returned to Renault for 2017.
That season, Sainz remained the permanent face at Toro Rosso, but the team replaced Kvyat with Gasly for the Malaysian GP (and the GPs thereafter). As part of the announced switch to Honda engines for 2018, they loaned Sainz to the Renault team (replacing Jolyon Palmer there) and Brendon Hartley took his place at Toro Rosso. Hartley-Gasly would also make up the Toro Rosso duo in 2018.
In 2019, they placed Kvyat back at Toro Rosso and brought in Alexander Albon as a rookie from Formula 2 to sit alongside the Russian. Gasly, in turn, was allowed to make his appearance at Red Bull. However, he failed to hit form there and a demotion to Toro Rosso beckoned. Albon and Kvyat both had their sights set on that seat, but Helmut Marko ultimately chose to transfer Albon to Red Bull during the summer break.
In 2020, AlphaTauri's goal was to match the 2019 record (sixth in the constructors' championship). With Kvyat and Gasly, they secured seventh place. Over the course of the season, however, things continued to improve.
Gasly's victory at Monza was proof of this. Kvyat, who finished fourth in Imola, also showed that they had found the right way. In 2020, they achieved seventh place in the championship, which was close to the record set in 2019. Last year, the team already showed how many qualities they have, so expectations are high.
Which engine will AlphaTauri use?
Just like Red Bull's big team, Alpha Tauri will use Red Bull’s own engine in 2022. It will be a great challenge for the team to compete with other teams, although the advantage is that Honda will continue to be involved in production behind the scenes for the time being.