Why AlphaTauri confirmed a driver already “100% confirmed” for F1 2023

Today’s confirmation from AlphaTauri that Pierre Gasly would be staying put for 2023 was perhaps the least surprising announcement so far this year in Formula 1.

Why AlphaTauri confirmed a driver already “100% confirmed” for F1 2023
Listen to this article

Last week in Canada, team principal Franz Tost made abundantly clear that Gasly was going nowhere, saying he was “100% confirmed” at the team for 2023. When he was asked to expand on how talks with Gasly had gone in a 90-word question, Tost took just 10 to deadpan back: “He has a valid contract. There’s nothing more to say.”

The hubbub that followed seemed surprising. It wasn’t new information that Gasly was under contract for 2023. Back in March, he told Motorsport.com in an interview that it was “not confidential anymore that I have one more year after this year on my contract.” 

Yet Tost’s comments last week and today’s announcement from AlphaTauri have nevertheless been seen as big steps forward in the driver market narrative heading towards 2023.

While Gasly was under contract for next year, it is important to note that the deals have always been with Red Bull, not specifically AlphaTauri. This has given Red Bull the freedom to place him in whichever of its teams it sees fit, hence the ease with which he returned to Toro Rosso in 2019 after his difficult 12-race stint at the senior squad.

Heading into the new season, the future of Sergio Perez was always going to be one of the big elements of the driver market for this year. Typically, Red Bull had waited until later in the season to make any decision on it, and the Mexican’s first year alongside Max Verstappen had hardly set the world alight. Had he slumped in 2022, then Gasly would surely have been knocking on the door to swoop in and secure the return to Red Bull he has craved.

But Perez has been in scintillating form so far this year, resulting in a very quick conclusion to contract talks. In the days following his victory in Monaco, Perez was confirmed at Red Bull not just for 2023, but, surprisingly, for 2024 as well.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Patrick Vinet / Motorsport Images

The news was seen as a blow to Gasly, who would have seen 2024 as a natural break point to say to Red Bull ‘use me or lose me’ - a scenario that Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko even accepted was likely back in March. 

In Baku, Gasly said it was “logical” for Red Bull to retain Perez, who “ticks all the boxes” for what the team is looking for in a teammate to Max Verstappen. He added that “beyond 2023, I consider all options.” By then, he’ll have the kind of reputation and freedom in the driver market that will surely make him a very hot property. 

Yet that is exactly why it was important for AlphaTauri to make clear Gasly is not going anywhere for next season, as silly season prepares to step up a gear.

Gasly has been one of the most consistent performers in F1 over the past couple of years. He is a race winner, a podium finisher, and regular points-scorer for a small team that he leads. For any team on the lookout for an experienced driver to join their line-up, he meets all of the criteria you could want. His one shot at a top team may have fallen short, but the same was true of Perez at McLaren in 2013; he took the long route back after years of hard work and underdog displays in the midfield, not too dissimilar to Gasly.

One of the most obvious teams that Gasly could have been linked with is McLaren amid uncertainty over Daniel Ricciardo’s future. Like Gasly, Ricciardo’s contract is in place to the end of 2023, but McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown’s recent comments, including confirmation there were “mechanisms” in his contract that allowed for an early exit, led to doubts the Australian would still be at Woking next year.

Brown said in Canada that his relationship with Ricciardo had “never been better” and stressed how the focus from McLaren had to be on giving its drivers a better car - something Lando Norris was fairly forthright about after the difficult race on Sunday. “Things could be going better,” Brown said of Ricciardo’s form, “but we're going to work hard and make sure that they do in the future.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, speaks with Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri on the drivers parade

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, speaks with Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri on the drivers parade

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

In terms of other options for next year, Gasly didn’t have too many other places that could have appealed. Aston Martin and Haas are the only teams there are real question marks over right now as Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher, respectively, near the end of their deals. Oscar Piastri looks nailed on to replace Nicholas Latifi at Williams, joining on loan due to the lack of room at Alpine, where Fernando Alonso is showing little sign of wishing to call it a day.

But today’s confirmation is nevertheless a show of public faith between Gasly and AlphaTauri, putting to bed any suggestions that he could drive elsewhere near season. Gasly said in the press release confirming him for next year that “being able to plan our development with the team for the next 18 months is a good working basis for the future.”

But the confirmation does far more than that: it also outlines an 18-month period for him to give the best audition he can to land a seat with a bigger team if he wants to realise his aspirations of fighting near the front on a regular basis.

The 2024 season is when things may truly move in the market, given the number of drivers that will be out of contract by then. For Gasly, that will be when talk about his future becomes all the more intriguing as new opportunities crop up.

Read Also:
shares
comments

Related video

Gasly formally confirmed at AlphaTauri F1 for 2023 season
Previous article

Gasly formally confirmed at AlphaTauri F1 for 2023 season

Next article

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc
Nicholas Latifi: The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future Prime

Nicholas Latifi: The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future

Personable, articulate and devoid of the usual racing driver airs and graces, Nicholas Latifi is the last Formula 1 driver you’d expect to receive death threats, but such was the toxic legacy of his part in last year’s explosive season finale. And now, as ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains, he faces a battle to keep his place on the F1 grid…

Formula 1
Aug 13, 2022
The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes Prime

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes

Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…

Formula 1
Aug 12, 2022
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Prime

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Prime

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time F1 champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24. And now it’s happening again at his current team

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Why few would blame Leclerc if he leaves Ferrari in future Prime

Why few would blame Leclerc if he leaves Ferrari in future

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior.

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Prime

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Prime

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbon fibre? Prime

Could F1 move to a future beyond carbon fibre?

Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? Pat Symonds considers the alternatives to carbon fibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting

Formula 1
Aug 6, 2022