Why Alpine should consider Yuki Tsunoda for a 2025 F1 seat

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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Following the news that Esteban Ocon and Alpine F1 Team will be parting ways at the end of the 2024 F1 season after a five-year collaboration, all eyes are now on which driver will be chosen as his replacement. Today we will explore reasons why Alpine should have Yuki Tsunoda in their sights. The Japanese racer has impressed this season and is a very different driver to the one on the grid in 2021. He is self-assured and calmer under pressure.

It seems as though Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner has no interest in promoting Tsunoda anytime soon.

In the competitive world of Formula 1, team decisions can make or break a season and also a driver’s career. Alpine, a team with rich heritage and aspirations of climbing up the constructors’ standings, have announced that they are parting ways with their most recent race winner. Ocon secured a stunning maiden F1 win for Alpine back in 2021 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, aided by an incredible defence against a charging Lewis Hamilton by teammate Fernando Alonso.

An F1 seat is hot property to say the least but a close examination of performance, potential, and team dynamics suggests that Alpine should seriously consider making a move for Yuki Tsunoda.  

Tsunoda, has demonstrated a steep learning curve in his early career. Following a very tough rookie season, the Japanese driver has come on leaps and bounds, where he has outperformed his more experienced teammates on several occasions. This form has continued in 2024 with Tsunoda outqualifying his more illustrious teammate and 8-time winner Daniel Ricciardo 7-1 so far, and he is 18-0 in points in Grands Prix.

Tsunoda’s aggressive driving style and determination have gained him attention and respect within the paddock. Although still refining his racecraft, Tsunoda’s potential for rapid improvement and consistency makes him a valuable asset for a team looking to build for the future and could be just the answer Alpine are looking for as they endeavour to make their way back to the front of the grid and with a 2026 rules reset on the horizon.

Having turned 24 last month, Tsunoda has shown a growing maturity and his team radio features less colourful language. However, the Alpine on paper may be the more competitive car in the coming years but at present this does not seem to be the case so Tsunoda may need some convincing as to the team’s aspirations.

Beyond performance on track, the marketability and the dynamic within the team play crucial roles in modern Formula 1. According to reports, the entrance fee for a team to enter the F1 grid could increase to $600 million. With such amounts of money Tsunoda brings with him a significant appeal, particularly in the Japanese market. As the only Japanese driver on the grid, Tsunoda has a massive following in Japan, which could open new commercial opportunities for Alpine. This market expansion can be lucrative, attracting sponsors and increasing the team’s financial stability. F1 may not have necessarily been created to sell cars but it has certainly become that over the last few decades.

As well as this, Tsunoda is a popular and likeable F1 character and should the team retain the services of Pierre Gasly, it would see a return of one of the most popular teammate pairings. Tsunoda’s close friendship with Gasly and willingness to learn could foster a more cohesive and positive atmosphere within Alpine. Something which the team seem to be lacking following the recent events in Monaco and the fallout that followed in the media.

Alpine’s long-term vision is to become a consistent frontrunner in Formula 1. To achieve this, they need a driver lineup that can grow with the team and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Tsunoda’s integration and potential harmony with Gasly would signify a commitment to nurturing young talent and building a future-focused team. A strategic shift to Tsunoda would indicate Alpine’s intent to innovate and have faith in the next generation of driving talent, echoing moves made by successful teams like Red Bull and Mercedes in the past.

Of course, this is only possible should Red Bull choose not to engage in conversation that deters other teams. At present it seems as though Tsunoda is not in Horner’s plans for a senior Red Bull seat.

Horner has always been strategic and meticulous in his choices for the team’s driver lineup and it does seem as though a renewal announcement of Sergio Perez is imminent. Despite Tsunoda’s obvious talent and potential his performances have been inconsistent and Red Bull Racing demands a high level of consistency with Constructors’ Championships always being the aim.

As much as Tsunoda is growing in maturity, it was only back in Bahrain when Daniel Ricciardo criticised his RB teammate’s “immaturity” after they narrowly avoided a collision on the cool-down lap. On the lap back to the pits after racing had finished, Tsunoda divebombed down the inside of Ricciardo’s car at Turn 8, locking up heavily in the process. These are the kinds of flashpoints that may be giving Horner pause for thought.

Alpine may also find themselves facing competition with Aston Martin after the team confirmed Honda will replace Mercedes as their engine supplier from 2026. The commercial prospect of Tsunoda at Aston Martin are clear to see.

One thing is clear, Tsunoda could be very much a man in demand but the first thing you have to do in F1 is beat your teammate and Ricciardo may yet find form at a time which could impact any future decision by teams. At present Tsunoda has a 14-point lead over Ricciardo in the standings. With the spotlight on both drivers, the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix – at the circuit which saw Ricciardo claim his first F1 GP – could be a big moment in the season even with so many races still to come.

On the evidence of 2023 and 2024 in particular, Tsunoda is someone who should be high on the list of teams looking for a driver next year.