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

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Last week in Canada, team principal Franz Tost made it clear that Gasly was going nowhere, saying he was “100 per cent confirmed” in the team for 2023. When asked to Expanding on how the discussions with Gasly had gone in 90 words question, Tost took only 10 to be impassive: “He has a valid contract. There is nothing more to say.

The hubbub that followed seemed surprising. It was not new information that Gasly was under contract for 2023. In March he told TAUT in an interview that it was “no longer confidential that I have one more year after this year on my contract” .

Yet Tost’s comments last week and today’s AlphaTauri announcement were nonetheless seen as big steps forward in the driver market narrative to 2023.

While Gasly was under contract for the next year, it’s important to note that the deals have always been with Red Bull, not AlphaTauri specifically. This gave Red Bull the freedom to place him in whatever squad they see fit, hence the ease with which he returned to Toro Rosso in 2019 after his difficult 12-race stint in the senior team.

Heading into the new season, Sergio Perez’s future was always going to be one of the big things in the driver market for this year. Typically, Red Bull had waited until later in the season to make a decision on this, and the Mexican’s debut year alongside Max Verstappen had hardly set the world on fire. Had he collapsed in 2022, Gasly would surely have knocked on the door to come in and secure the return to Red Bull he craved.

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

MORE: How Perez was better for Red Bull in 2022

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 breaking point to tell Red Bull ‘use me or lose me’ – a scenario Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko even accepted was probably 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 Max Verstappen team-mate. He added that “beyond 2023, I am considering all options”. By then, he will have the kind of reputation and freedom in the driver market that will surely make him a very hot property.

Still, that’s exactly why it was important for AlphaTauri to make it clear that Gasly isn’t going anywhere for next season as the silly season prepares to kick into high gear.

Gasly has been one of F1’s most consistent performers over the past two years. He is a race winner, podium finisher and regular points scorer for a small team he leads. For any team looking for an experienced driver to join their team, he meets all the criteria you could want. His one shot against a top team may have failed, but so did Perez at McLaren in 2013; he took the long way back after years of hard work and underdog displays in midfield, not too dissimilar to Gasly.

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

Brown told Canada his relationship with Ricciardo had “never been better” and stressed how McLaren needed to focus on providing a better car for its drivers – which Lando Norris was quite candid after. Sunday’s difficult race. “Things could get better,” Brown said of Ricciardo’s form, “but we’re going to work hard and make sure they do in the future.”

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

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, chats 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 might have appealed. Aston Martin and Haas are the only teams over which there are real question marks at the moment as Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher, respectively, near the end of their contracts.

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Oscar Piastri looks set to replace Nicholas Latifi at Williams, joining on loan due to lack of space at Alpine, where Fernando Alonso shows little sign of wanting to call him a day.

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

But the confirmation does much more than that: it also gives him an 18-month window to give the best possible audition to land a seat with a bigger team if he is to achieve his fighting aspirations near the front lines on a regular basis. .

The 2024 season is when things could really change on the market, given the number of drivers who will then be at the end of their contract. For Gasly, that will be when talking about his future becomes all the more intriguing as new opportunities arise.

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