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AlphaTauri's disaster season: how could it go so wrong?

AlphaTauri's disaster season: how could it go so wrong?

27-11-2022 15:31


In retrospect, it was the first indication of a disastrous season. The opening race of the season in Bahrain was all but over on two laps when Pierre Gasly 's AlphaTauri suddenly caught fire. The Frenchman quickly managed to pull the car over to the side, only to leave his cockpit in a hurry.

The fire - then repeated in Singapore - was just one of the many setbacks faced by Red Bull Racing's sister team last season. Brakes not functioning optimally, a driver (Gasly) who gained almost more penalty points than championship points, a difficult search for a driver for 2023, and - above all - only ninth place in the constructors' championship. AlphaTauri (formerly Toro Rosso) had not been as uncompetitive as it was in 2022 in years.

New regulations

With the sweeping changes to the technical regulations, AlphaTauri had high hopes of taking a structural step forward or at least remaining stable in the midfield. In 2021, AlphaTauri was regularly the third-fastest team on the grid thanks to the excelling Gasly. Meanwhile, the conclusion can be drawn that AlphaTauri was completely wrong with the new car.

The biggest problem this year proved to be the weight of the car. All season, the AlphaTauri was 12 to 13 kilos overweight and it failed to slim down. The extra ballast cost the drivers about 0.35 seconds per lap. Moreover, a heavy car means higher wear and overheating of the tyres. To this day, the engineers at AlphaTauri believe that the concept of the car was fine in principle, but the excess weight ultimately depressed performance.


A Formula 1 team is obliged to design its car. However, it is allowed to shop from other teams for certain parts. As a sister team, AlphaTauri has been doing that with Red Bull for years. It reduces costs - after all, you don't have to invest in its development - but it can also come at the expense of performance. In the case of AlphaTauri, that was the case.

The parts purchased were initially designed for the Red Bull car. That means they did not fit optimally into AlphaTauri's design. Moreover, Red Bull develops a lot and fast. Often only at the very last minute, AlphaTauri suddenly got totally modified parts, which then had to be fitted into the car as best as possible. In terms of aerodynamics, this is anything but optimal. That is also the reason AlphaTauri will start producing more parts itself next season.

New duo

With drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries, as well as a new car, AlphaTauri wants to forget the disappointment of 2022 next year. With the new driver duo, the Gasly era at AlphaTauri comes to an end. As is well known, he is switching to Alpine. For the Italians, his departure is little to mourn. Although Gasly was the fastest of the two drivers, he seemed to have lost his luster a little in the hard-to-handle AlphaTauri. His huge number of penalty points on the license - admittedly some incidents were heavily penalised - still indicated a certain kind of frustration on his part. It was also possible that AlphaTauri did not let him go straight to Alpine but first looked for an adequate replacement. In any case, a new environment undoubtedly does Gasly good.

That AlphaTauri did not get permission from the FIA to contract the superlicensed Colton Herta was another moment of bad luck for the team. With De Vries, a good replacement seems to be on board. The question is whether the Dutchman will manage to emerge as team leader right away. Indeed, Tsunoda seems anything but ready for that. Gasly may have conquered a few points (his fifth place in Italy was the best result), but the Japanese hardly convinced.


One season is not the other. Look at Haas, for example. For now, there are hopeful noises coming from the factory in Faenza about the 2023 car. Only, wasn't it the same last winter? Another such disastrous season AlphaTauri cannot afford. In that case, the gap with its direct competitors grows to heights that cannot be bridged in the coming years. So an exciting time awaits the team.

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