Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Tsunoda makes solid start as de Vries’ replacement provides toughest test yet

2023 F1 team mate battles

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What was supposed to be Nyck de Vries‘ first full season as a Formula 1 driver was over weeks before the summer break. Red Bull replaced him at junior team AlphaTauri after just 10 races.

There’s no denying de Vries had a poor stint alongside team mate Yuki Tsunoda. But it’s not the case that he always looked completely out of his depth.

De Vries occasionally managed to out-qualify Tsunoda and reach the chequered flag before him. But those occasions were few and far between, and interrupted by too many mistakes.

The Azerbaijan weekend dealt a severe blow to de Vries’ status within the team after he tangled with Tsunoda in the sprint race, then crashed out of the main event. After that he collided with Lando Norris in Miami, and had run-ins with Kevin Magnussen in Canada and Austria.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Hungaroring, 2023
Ricciardo was immediately on it in Hungary
Meanwhile Tsunoda was making occasional incursions into the top 10 in one of the grid’s least competitive cars. Although he only scored two points while de Vries was alongside him, he came close to adding more on multiple occasions, sometimes only missing out due to misfortune.

Always straightforward and uncompromising in his feedback, Tsunoda admitted he has been put under more pressure by the arrival of the vastly more experienced Daniel Ricciardo in place of de Vries. Particularly when he was narrowly out-qualified by his new team mate at the first time of asking in Hungary.

Ricciardo’s arrival has largely been interpreted as casting doubt on Sergio Perez’s future at Red Bull. But it also raises questions over whether Tsunoda has shown enough potential to merit consideration for a promotion from the team he is now in his third season at.

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Therefore Tsunoda will be relieved to have gone into the summer break off the back of a decent showing at Spa-Francorchamps. While Ricciardo came close to picking up points in the rain-affected sprint race, his over-commitment through Eau Rouge on Friday compromised his starting position for the grand prix. As Ricciardo laboured to make progress through traffic, Tsunoda scored the team’s third point of the season with another 10th place.

With the benefit of a stronger driver line-up and the recent improvements to their chassis, AlphaTauri will expect more points from both drivers in the second part of the season. Each will know their chances of getting into the fastest car in F1 at the moment rests on decisively beating the other.

Tsunoda vs de Vries

de VriesQ

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Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: de Vries was faster; Positive value: Tsunoda was faster

Tsunoda vs Ricciardo

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Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Ricciardo was faster; Positive value: Tsunoda was faster

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2023 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “Tsunoda makes solid start as de Vries’ replacement provides toughest test yet”

  1. de Vries was clearly struggling and cleary not be able to compete thoughout the season. No wonder he was sacked and replaced by Ricciardo.

  2. The AT pairing is the most interesting one to me over the remaining season.
    I’m mostly looking forward to how they fare against each other because of Lawson’s form in SF.

    1. I agree.
      I keep saying it everywhere. Lawson has already done enough to get his chance in F1 and if there is any common sense at Red Bull they need to clear a spot for him at that team for next year. My feeling is that the expectation of Helmut was De Vries would beat Tsunoda and I think they assume the same from Ricciardo, but I think they are underestimating Tsunoda.

      Let’s see what happens but I think it should be Tsunoda and Lawson in that team next year. It would be Tsunoda 4th year and the argument that they need experience doesn’t appear to be valid as of right now.

  3. Bit early to be comparing Yuki and Daniel isn’t it? I mean – Daniel has only had two, quite variable, races (and even then – hardly any FP time) in the AT compared to Yuki’s time in the car. Daniel also, by his own admission, isn’t physically there yet.

    I would say this best comparison will be from after the break and ignoring these two races before the break.

    Off topic: The dark mode toggle doesn’t work for me. I press it and nothing happens.

  4. Coventry Climax
    10th August 2023, 1:00

    When Tsunoda finishes ahead in the next race, he’ll improve to 67% where Daniel tumbles to 33%.
    But then, if Ricciardo finishes ahead next time, those figures are reversed.
    In statistics, I believe that’s called an unrepresentative sample.

    1. I believe that’s called an unrepresentative sample.


      Let’s wait for a representative sample of races, like 10 races perhaps?

    2. Yes, it’s fine to make the comparison already, since it’s the midseason point, and there will be a comparison in the end again anyway, it’s just too soon to say ricciardo proved tougher competition than de vries, I’d need at least a couple more races.

  5. Coventry Climax
    10th August 2023, 12:32

    And equally way too soon to ‘back it all up’ with stats and graphs.
    Even the amount of races that de Vries did, wouldn’t be called representative in statistics.

    Talking about it and trying to analyse it is fine, that’s what this site is all about, but graphs and statistics?

  6. …by the arrival of the vastly more experienced Daniel Ricciardo in place of de Vries.

    Without doubt Daniel is more experienced than Nyck is, but that doesn’t mean Daniel is better. There are lots of ex-F1 drivers who are vastly more experienced than Nyck is, but he is undoubtedly better than them because he got that seat and they didn’t.
    It is too early to be making comparisons, but since the matter has been raised I don’t believe Daniel has performed to the level to justify Nyck being sacked. So far there’s no reason to believe Nyck couldn’t have produced similar results as to what Daniel has done.

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