Jan Lammers names his wooden spoon team for 2023, and hopes he is ‘so terribly wrong’

Michelle Foster
Nyck de Vries speaking to an engineer in the AlphaTauri garage. Bahrain February 2023

Nyck de Vries speaking to an engineer in the AlphaTauri garage. Bahrain February 2023

Dutch pundit Jan Lammers is worried AlphaTauri could be this season’s wooden spoon team, which would not be good for Nyck de Vries as he makes his F1 debut.

This season the Netherlands will have two drivers on the grid, reigning World Champion Max Verstappen and debutant De Vries.

But while Verstappen heads into the new season as the favourite to win the Drivers’ Championship title, which would be his third on the trot, Lammers fears De Vries and his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda could be in for a difficult year.

Although the AT04 showed good reliability in pre-season testing with Tsunoda P6 on the overall timesheet, Lammers is worried the team will have a trying time avoiding the bottom spot on the log.

Asked which team he feels could be at the very back of the pack, he told Motorsport.com: “I hope it’s not AlphaTauri, but that looks a little worrying at the moment.

“We don’t dare to say that out loud, but I’m doing it now anyway.

“If you take the test, and you can’t always take it as an indication of course, but if you do then I think AlphaTauri will have to work hard.”

He added: “That AlphaTauri will close the gate, that is my most daring statement. I hope I am so terribly wrong.”

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AlphaTauri rumours an unnecessary distraction

AlphaTauri recently became the subject of a rumour, one claiming three potential buyers had shown an interest in purchasing the Faenza-based team from owners Red Bull.

That’s been denied by team boss Franz Tost, who put out a statement saying the “shareholders will not sell Scuderia AlphaTauri, and that Red Bull will continue supporting the team in the future.

“All these rumours have no foundation, and the team has to remain focused for the start of the season to perform better than last year.”

Lammers fears the rumour will nonetheless have had an impact on the team’s pre-season preparations and morale within the team.

“I think it’s a shame for Nyck that this happens just like this before the season, when you really just need your maximum focus,” he said. “Like the team and all those team members: they have to be focused on the result and so on.

“Whether it’s related to all employees at AlphaTauri, or the media, or friends and girlfriends of Nyck and associates: everyone is talking about that for a while.

“Actually, I find it annoying that I’m talking about it, but you can’t avoid it. It’s all just a distraction that you don’t need right now, especially when you still need so many finishing touches within your organisation and the car.”

AlphaTauri team-mate battle will be close

Although Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has already backed De Vries to step up into the team leader role at AlphaTauri, Lammers says that would be doing Tsunoda a disservice.

While he does believe the 28-year-old has the talent to “do anything”, the former F1 driver reckons Tsunoda showed a great deal of improvement last season.

“Nyck can also expect that of himself, but I think you might be doing Tsunoda short,” said Lammers of De Vries stepping up. “So I don’t think Nyck will stand in front of Tsunoda with one hand.

“But Nyck can do anything. He can win races, if he’s just in a car that does that. Nyck has already shown in the past that he is capable of many great things, but whether he will also be given that opportunity at AlphaTauri, I hope so.

“And I hope that what is going on there now will not influence the results too much, because Tsunoda in particular has shown quite a few reasonable things in terms of lap times.

“So let’s hope I’m completely wrong with everything I’m calling as a doomsday scenario.”