Formula 1 Racing

Rookie drivers ‘need three years minimum in F1’

Franz Tost, AlphaTauri Team Principal, Baku City Circuit, 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…

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