• Chris Kato

Teammate Tale of the Tape - Gasly vs Tsunoda at Alpha Tauri

Is Alpha Tauri on the verge of joining the elite ranks of F1 and will their new driver help them get there?

Courtesy - Scuderia Alpha Tauri

Alpha Tauri will be the seventh team this season to debut a new driver lineup in 2021. After deciding to not renew the services of Daniil Kvyat, Alpha Tauri have invested in youth instead by signing on Japan's Yuki Tsunoda. In this Tale of the Tape video, we'll be looking more at each driver individually as Tsunoda is one of three rookies this season so his F1 resume at the moment is empty. A team that is always a fan favorite underdog, Alpha Tauri are positioning themselves to emerge out of the shadows as a Red Bull 'B' team and legitimately contend with the elite teams in the mid-field. With changes in their driver lineup, will the partnership of Gasly and Tsunoda be enough to achieve this goal? With that said, let's learn more about one of F1's newest drivers and breakdown the numbers behind the Teammate Tale of the Tape at Alpha Tauri.

Tale of the Tape - Gasly vs Tsunoda

It's always difficult for a young rookie to enter Formula 1 against a more experienced and established teammate. Yuki Tsunoda will have the difficult task of trying to match one of the most improved drivers on the F1 grid. Entering 2021 as a Grand Prix winner, Pierre Gasly will be Alpha Tauri's defacto number one driver and team leader. The two drivers will have a lot of work to do in order to keep up with the ever challenging and improving mid-field. Because Tsunoda is a rookie in Formula 1, we're going to compare Yuki's last F2 season vs Pierre's F1 career. It's difficult to compare the two directly but taking a look at the numbers offers us a good opportunity to learn more about Tsunoda's capabilities.

In modern Formula 1, can we consider 25 to be old? Pierre Gasly will enter his 4th full season of F1 and 5th all together with Toro Rosso/Alpha Tauri. He has 64 races under his belt in which he's been able to score two podiums and one fantastic victory coming last year in Monza. Gasly has steadily improved his head to head against teammates since his Red Bull stint, he's out-qualified teammates 56% of the time while out racing them 65% of the time in his career. These steady numbers led him to out qualifying Kvyat last year 12-4 and scoring almost three times as many points as his Russian teammate did in 2020. On the other hand, Yuki Tsunoda had just one short season of Formula 2 in which he was able to deliver enough to secure a seat in Formula 1. In 24 races last season, Tsunoda picked up seven podium finishes along with three race victories. Throughout 2020, he was able to out-qualify his teammate 67% of the time which was a strength of his. He managed to get the better of his teammate in races 54% of the time and was a consistent points scorer which led him to securing third in the F2 championship. Tsunoda has proved himself already to be able to handle the pressure quite well as he needed that third place in F2 in order to secure enough points for a Super License. He'll enter a driver friendly environment at Alpha Tauri and he'll also be given some time to get up to speed and develop his skills as a young driver. The aim is for Tsunoda to be able to match his teammate Gasly by the middle of the season and that would be great news for Alpha Tauri if he can achieve that. Let's now take a look at these drivers individually and their skills that they bring to the team.

#10 - Pierre Gasly

Courtesy - Scuderia Alpha Tauri

Even though Alpha Tauri is a mid-field team, you could argue that Pierre Gasly is far better off sticking with the Italian team than being promoted back to Red Bull Racing at the moment. He enters the 2021 season with a chance to prove that he can lead a team on his own and possibly catch the eye of other teams in the market for a driver in 2022. Gasly is coming off of a career year in which he took his first F1 win and had a solid season all around scoring in all but four races. Throughout his career, Gasly has finished in the points in 45% of his races and has also reached Q3 in 30 out of 64 attempts. His best championship finish came back in 2019 when he placed 7th with Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Every drivers first challenge is his teammate and that is where Gasly will have to start off from. Tsunoda is coming in as the young prospect with a lot of potential so that will be added motivation for Gasly to put a stop to the hype train and further add to his stock. Other than beating his teammate, another race victory might be unrealistic but Alpha Tauri are trying to get within the mid-field fight between the likes of Alpine, Aston Martin, and McLaren. Their AT02 car reveal a few weeks ago has shown us some interesting characteristics which we'll get too at the end, but Gasly has also hinted at some potential improvements found in the new 2021 car. "Everybody's aware, everybody's pushing in the right direction, Gasly said. I think they have found a couple of interesting things which obviously we need to confirm during testing but all in all, I think the team is really improving year after year and also the way we work together, the working relationship is really good." What those 'interesting things' are, we don't know and we'll soon find out during testing in Bahrain. If they want to break into the top six, they'll need Gasly at his best every weekend and extracting every bit of performance out of the car. Alpha Tauri is a team known to punch above it's weight so with Gasly's proven ability to strike when the opportunity presents itself, we could see another podium finish in the Frenchman's sights. I also think Gasly has made a significant improvement in his one lap pace which could come in handy along with the new Honda power unit. It's an exciting time if you're a Pierre Gasly fan as he's just starting to hit his peak as a Grand Prix driver. 2021 will be an important year in which the future trajectory of his career might be decided and I believe it will be for the better.

#22 Yuki Tsunoda

Courtesy - Scuderia Alpha Tauri

Japan has its first Formula 1 driver on the grid since 2014 and it comes in the form of 20 year old Yuki Tsunoda. Yuki is a Honda backed driver who made his single seater debut back in 2016 for the F4 Japanese championship. He eventually joined the Red Bull Junior Program in 2018 and also grabbed the F4 title that year. His ascend to Formula 1 is quite quick as he caught the eye of one Helmut Marko, a man who is not easy to please. With that pressure on him, Tsunoda handled himself really well in 2020 and finished third in the F2 championship. His test at Imola in a 2018 spec Toro Rosso really impressed the team in terms of his speed and also feedback with the engineers. That was the final confirmation the Red Bull bosses needed to give Tsunoda the seat alongside Pierre Gasly. Much like every F1 rookie, Tsunoda is tempering his expectations early on in the season and he's taking the demands of Formula 1 day by day. "For me, I don't make goals usually before the season, said Tsunoda. I just focus race by race and now I'm focusing for Bahrain test, turn one braking zone. I don't make goals but maybe I'll say get points as much as possible, of course a target would be a podium but for me now, just push hard and adapt to the car as much as possible." Even though he talks down his goals for this current season, Tsunoda has big expectations from himself as his dream is to be Formula 1 World Champion. Every driver makes huge sacrifices to make it to the grid and that's especially true for the 20 year old Japanese star. It's a big culture shock moving from his hometown of Sagamihara, Japan to the European continent and living in places like England and Italy. The good news here for Tsunoda is that he is driving for an Italian team as he's quite the fan of their cuisine but the same can not be said for it's English counterparts according to Yuki. "I miss Japanese food. I’m not a huge fan of English food, although I do like fish and chips, and I like sweet potato wedges as well. I love Italian and Spanish food like jamon and prosciutto, but for me, Japanese food is the best.." This was one of the many great examples I found of Tsunoda's honest character and likeable personality that explains why he gelled with the Alpha Tauri team right away. On track, Tsunoda has the great ability of adapting quickly and improving greatly throughout the course of a season. After being out raced by his F2 teammate 6-2 to start the 2020 season, Tsunoda went on to beat Deravula 11-5 to finish out the season and also won the qualifying battle beating him 8-4. With the Red Bull Junior Program looking a little thin nowadays, Helmut Marko has placed a lot of hope on the talents of Yuki Tsunoda and would like to see him promoted to the senior team in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing how Tsunoda will get on at Alpha Tauri and whether he can succeed against a tough teammate like Gasly.

What can we expect from Alpha Tauri?

Courtesy - Scuderia Alpha Tauri

Alpha Tauri was in a 'no man's land' spot in the standings last year in seventh place with a healthy gap behind them and in front of them. For years they've been considered just a junior team to Red Bull but their 2021 car is not a carbon copy of the senior Red Bull car. They've taken some parts from Red Bull technologies such as the power steering rack and front suspension rockers, but they've declined to take the 2020 spec Red Bull rear end and gearbox. They've instead decided to focus and spend their development tokens on the front of the car and that is clearly seen by the new nose. On the face of it, it looks like the smart way to go as the 2020 Red Bull had a unstable rear end and we've seen many teams transition into the popular narrow nose concept. Alpha Tauri has opted for stability and are hoping the upgraded Honda power unit will give them an extra boost as well. We'll have to wait and see whether the new additions will make Alpha Tauri faster but for now things are looking promising out of Faenza. For their driver lineup, it's one that is relatively unexperienced in relation to their rivals but they are not short on talent. In order for this to work for Alpha Tauri, Tsundoa will need to try and get up to speed as quickly as possible and join Gasly in scoring points for the team on a week to week basis. Last season, Alpha Tauri missed a lot of points scoring opportunities which left them on the outside looking in to the top six. The team is pushing for lofty expectations and with the rule changes coming into effect this year and beyond, their is reason for Alpha Tauri supporters to be optimistic. One thing is for sure, they've debuted one of the best looking liveries so far this season and the common F1 fan will be cheering on the underdogs over at Alpha Tauri.

What do you think of Alpha Tauri's addition of Yuki Tsunoda and how do you expect Alpha Tauri to perform in the upcoming season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and and tell us what you think of the new AT02 livery! That will do it for the Teammate Tale of the Tape videos for 2021 but coming up next will be three days of winter testing in Bahrain. Stay tuned to our social channels as we'll be soon announcing our content plans for winter testing and how you can be apart of them!

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