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today is May 30, 2023

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost says new Formula 1 drivers need at least three years to prove they can compete at the top level.

Tost, who will step down from his position at the end of the year, has overseen a succession of newcomers at Red Bull’s team for junior drivers over the last 18 years. For the majority of that time the team was known as Toro Rosso.

The team’s current drivers are Yuki Tsunoda, who is in his third season of F1, and Nyck de Vries, who had only made one start as a substitute driver before embarking on his first full-time season with AlphaTauri.

“Yuki is doing a really good job,” said Tost. “You can see his learning curve is going up very good, I must say.

Franz Tost, AlphaTauri Team Principal, Baku City Circuit, 2023 Young drivers experience a ‘crash period’ says Tost “And Nyck, as I always say, if a rookie is coming to Formula One, he needs minimum three years to understand what’s going on here.”

De Vries is one of only two drivers yet to score a point this year, along with fellow rookie Logan Sargeant. Tost says he needs to be given time, and that even future champions such as Sebastian Vettel had rough periods early in their careers.

“It’s as I always say [it’s] the learning process and the ‘crash period’ because if the drivers don’t crash, they don’t know the limit. This is a credit you must give them, otherwise it doesn’t work.

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“There was no driver not crashing. I remember back to Sebastian, maybe in the first races came back in the first lap, most often without the front nose. It’s part of the game.”

Formula 1 has reduced the available practice time for drivers in recent season. Just three years ago each round featured four hours of practice. Now a regular round has three and the six sprint events have just an hour each.

Speaking at the first sprint event of the season at the Baku City Circuit, Tost said the cut in practice is especially tough on rookie drivers.

“We have free practice one and then you go into the qualifying,” he said. “And that’s problematic for the young drivers. For the rookies to get most out of the track, and of the tyres in the qualifying. That’s really a difficult exercise.”

Reports emerged yesterday claiming Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo had recently had a seat fitting for Tost’s team, who he raced for in 2012 and 2013, prompting speculation over De Vries’ future. However RaceFans understands this seat fitting was done much earlier and Ricciardo is not under consideration to replace De Vries. Liam Lawson, who currently races in Super Formula, is expected to be the next driver in line for any seat which may become available.

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Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri drivers

Driver Toro Rosso / AlphaTauri debut Career progression Vitantonio Liuzzi 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix Drove for Red Bull before Toro Rosso. Dropped at end of 2007. Scott Speed 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix Dropped mid-2007 Sebastian Vettel 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix Drove for BMW Sauber before Toro Rosso. Promoted to Red Bull at end of 2008. Sebastien Bourdais 2008 Australian Grand Prix Dropped mid-2009 Jaime Alguersuari 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix Dropped at end of 2011 Daniel Ricciardo 2012 Australian Grand Prix Drove for HRT before Toro Rosso. Promoted to Red Bull at end of 2013. Jean-Eric Vergne 2012 Australian Grand Prix Dropped at end of 2014. Daniil Kvyat 2014 Australian Grand Prix Promoted to Red Bull at end of 2014. Demoted to Toro Rosso four races into 2016. Dropped late in 2017, then returned in 2019 and dropped again at end of following year. Max Verstappen 2015 Australian Grand Prix Promoted to Red Bull four races into 2016. Carlos Sainz Jnr 2015 Australian Grand Prix Released to Renault late in 2017. Pierre Gasly 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix Promoted to Red Bull at end of 2018 but demoted to Toro Rosso after nine races. Released to join Alpine in 2023. Brendon Hartley 2017 United States Grand Prix Dropped at end of 2018. Alexander Albon 2019 Australian Grand Prix Promoted to Red Bull after 12 races. Yuki Tsunoda 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix Current driver. Nyck de Vries 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Drove for Williams before AlphaTauri. Current driver.

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