Red Bull to copy rival driver plans as big rebrand approaches

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo hitches a ride with his AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Yuki Tsunoda has not featured in the conversation to replace Sergio Perez.

Oscar Piastri’s breakthrough campaign has not only an impact on McLaren, but also on their rivals, with Red Bull’s junior team acknowledging more effort and funds need to be spent on blooding young talent.

Since its inception, Toro Rosso or AlphaTauri as it has been known in its latter years, has been Red Bull’s breeding ground for young talent with Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, and Max Verstappen coming through the ranks.

But with in-season testing all but abolished barring ‘filming days’ and pre-season running slashed to just three days, rookies have less time than ever before to adapt to Formula 1 and its technology.

Oscar Piastri success has AlphaTauri re-evaluating process

It has meant the likes of Logan Sargeant, fresh from F2, has arrived on the grid with minimal F1 testing to his name. A problem Alpine attempted to negate as they gave Piastri a year as their reserve driver after his Formula 2 championship victory, the Aussie spending time testing a two-year-old Renault F1 car.

But while they ultimately lost the F2 champ to McLaren, unable to guarantee him a Formula 1 drive, Alpine’s efforts to blood the Australian opened Red Bull’s eyes as to the efforts – and funds – their junior team must spend to prepare the next generation of Red Bull racers.

“That’s another new area for us next year,” Red Bull junior team CEO Bayer said, as quoted by

“We want to take some of the money we’re making currently to make sure we can prepare the young drivers in the best possible way.

“And I think Oscar Piastri is the best example.

“He ran I don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of miles [with Alpine], but he came in and he understood the car. He understood the dynamics, he understood the switches, and it makes such a big difference, and so it connects you fully.

“And we have a big programme actually for Liam and Isack [Hadjar] and potentially [Ayumu] Iwasa, and we want to make sure that we run them as much as possible also. It’s interesting that the previous car is a ’22 car, so it’s finally a relevant car.”

And Red Bull’s stakeholders want results, not only for the Max Verstappen-driven senior team but also AlphaTauri.

“The shareholders, when they were resharpening things, they also said, ‘we want you to be competitive’,” said Bayer.

“Franz always says, and honestly in the meantime, I agree 100%, that a young driver needs three years to be sort of ready for F1.

“With all the complexity the sport is currently requiring, and the amount of information they have to digest and process and then feedback to us, so that we again understand as a team what to do, how to change the settings, and so on, and to be competitive, simply they need a lot of time.”

That is in part why the team has gone with its oldest and most experienced line-up to date with eight-time Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda, into his fourth year in F1, as the junior team’s two 2024 drivers.

Bayer revealed he understood the difference when the team ran Liam Lawson in Ricciardo’s place when the Aussie broke his hand at last year’s Dutch Grand Prix weekend.

Although Lawson contested five races for the team and scored two points, the new CEO was aware of the change in flow of having a rookie in the car. recommends

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“I understood that the moment we put a young driver into the car,” he said. “Because what’s happening is it’s actually a change of flow of information, whilst with an experienced driver like Daniel it’s him feeding the engineer, who is feeding the operations room, who are then again coming back with stuff.

“With a young driver it’s coming from the ops room to the engineers to the pitwall to the driver. ‘Constantly watch out in that corner. Now make sure you get the toggles right’, or ‘brake later, brake earlier, watch the steering, watch your rear, watch engine braking. Oh, by the way, there’s someone coming from behind.’

“Honestly, it’s like in a theatre, the guy’s like bu-bu-bu-bu-bub all the time. While with Daniel it’s quiet. And once a lap, he will come back and say, ‘guys, an issue with the rear, can you have a look?’ ’Oh, yeah, we see actually overheating, we can do something on the differential.’ And it’s fixed.

“Or he will come back after three, four laps and say, ‘have you thought about changing the strategy? Because I’m stuck here in a DRS train, and rather than waiting, why don’t you…?’ ‘Yeah, good idea!’

“You feel the difference. And then obviously the work we do with him in the simulator, vehicle performance, that whole area is a different ballgame.

“So one experienced driver who takes under his wings a young one. And even that young one needs to be prepared.”

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