Yuki Tsunoda would welcome Sebastian Vettel as replacement for Franz Tost

Thomas Maher
Yuki Tsunoda on the grid. Imola April 2022. Sebastian Vettel

AlphaTauri driver walks on the grid at his team's home race. Imola April 2022.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda believes Sebastian Vettel would work very well with Red Bull junior drivers, once Franz Tost inevitably leaves the sport behind.

Tsunoda reckons Vettel would make a good fit to replace Franz Tost as the AlphaTauri team boss, once the Austrian decides to call time on his F1 career.

Tost, now 67, recently made it clear that he has no intentions of remaining in the F1 paddock by the time he turns 70.

Speaking to Dutch magazine FORMULE 1 in March, Tost said: “I don’t have the [exact date], but what is 100 percent certain [is that] at the age of 70, I am no longer on the pit wall. I can already tell you that.

“Before I turn 70, it’s really done. Then I go back to Austria and finally go skiing again. I haven’t skied in three years now because I don’t have the time. What is the best time to ski? February and March. But then I am always busy working: we are working on the new car, testing, and now with races in Bahrain, Jeddah, and Melbourne.”

Tost has been with the Faenza-based squad since Red Bull bought the former Minardi team in 2005, overseeing the Toro Rosso squad through until their rebrand to AlphaTauri for 2020.

Yuki Tsunoda interested to see how Sebastian Vettel would fare as team boss

With his team being used as a training ground for Red Bull’s junior drivers as they’ve reached F1, including reigning World Champion Max Verstappen, current Red Bull junior Yuki Tsunoda believes Sebastian Vettel would be the ideal candidate to replace Tost.

Vettel, who recently retired from racing in F1 after 15 years in the sport, entered F1 with Red Bull backing, with his first full-time seat coming with Toro Rosso in 2008. Winning his first race at Monza that year, Vettel moved to Red Bull in 2009 and was instantly a championship challenger – he won four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013 before a poor season in 2014 triggered a switch to Ferrari.

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Having had first-hand experience of working with Toro Rosso and as a Red Bull junior, Tsunoda said Vettel would be an ideal mentor for drivers entering the programme – perhaps stepping in to occupy the roles currently held by Tost and Helmut Marko.

“That would be really interesting to see how Sebastian would be as a team manager,” Tsunoda said on the Beyond the Grid podcast when asked about the prospect of Vettel replacing Tost. “He can be anything.”

Sebastian Vettel a logical successor for Helmut Marko?

With Marko turning 80 years old this month, there will come an inevitable point at which a succession plan is decided upon, particularly in light of the changes in Red Bull’s upper ownership and management following the death of founder Dietrich Mateschitz in late 2022.

“For example, what Helmut Marko is doing now with Red Bull juniors,” Tsunoda continued, “I think Sebastian would also be very good at taking care of Red Bull juniors because he’s one of the most successful drivers in Formula 1.

“I can tell from all the race briefings from last year before qualifying, he always said the points where we have to improve in terms of track, the kerb or something like that. He was the first guy to raise his hands so I think Sebastian can be that guy.”

Tsunoda has always made it clear how much he’s valued the support of Tost during his two-and-a-bit seasons in Formula 1, particularly after a difficult maiden season had the Japanese rookie teetering on the edge of being dumped unceremoniously from the sport.

With Tost a firm but fair boss, Tsunoda said he would miss the Austrian once the time comes for him to return home and leave the paddock behind.

“I will definitely miss him,” he said.

“We share a lot of moments together. We’re always on the same page. He has a lot of leadership. I will miss him, especially feeling the support he gives me so, if I lose him, maybe I won’t feel as comfortable or excited in the team compared to usual.”