AlphaTauri-Red Bull collaboration will become similar to Haas-Ferrari

14 Apr, 2023

Approaching the Australian GP, there was plenty of talk about one team – especially after some rather heavy statements from their team principal. This team is AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s sister outfit, having started the season poorly with results far below expectations:

“I no longer trust my engineers. They promised me things by looking at the data in the winter, and instead, we are far from our goals,” said Team Principal Franz Tost about his personnel after the opening round.

We could have imagined a similar sentiment if Binotto had remained in command of Ferrari, given the very disappointing performance of the SF-23 compared to what the Simulator data indicatedThe first development package for the AT04 arrived in Melbourne to try and get the team’s season back on track in a very close midfield where the thousandths can make the difference.

AlphaTauri revolution: Tost changes the technical structure and strengthens the team’s collaboration with Red Bull 

The start of the season wasn’t very encouraging, with AlphaTauri disappointed in their progress over the winter break. Rumours soon followed about a possible sale of the team, dissolving the relationship that binds the team with Red Bull, especially after the death of Dieter Mateschitz and the subsequent appointment of Oliver Mintzlaff as head of the group.

However, Helmut Marko has intervened and (somewhat) calmed the waters:

“The decision is up to the shareholders, but it’s something we’ve talked about. For the moment, AlphaTauri is not for sale even though the results certainly aren’t up to par with a group like Red Bull, and this doesn’t make the investment return.”

“There have also been discussions about transferring the company to England, where there are already 100 employees, but it would all be too hasty”.

Marko, therefore, denies any sale for now – although this will not be the end of speculation in this area – especially given that Honda’s F1 interest never really subsided, especially in view of 2026.

AlphaTauri Team Principal, Franz Tost & Red Bull Advisor, Helmut Marko

In the short term, however, AlphaTauri’s problems are more technical than financial:

“I was assured that the car would be faster than in 2022, but that’s not the case,” said team principal Franz Tost in a recent press conference:

“I won’t name names, but the technical department has been reorganized. Some people have left, and now I expect results from the new people. The responsibilities of the technical department are now divided over three people,” explained the Austrian.

From a structural perspective, this is a similar reorganisation to what Mclaren has also done in this last period. Many have wondered if AlphaTauri had been too unambitious, but that is not the main issue, the problem has been the team’s failure to hit targets.

Due to a very compressed midfield, the failure to reach these objectives can result in the loss of many positions in the standings.

Melbourne GP, Alpha Tauri, Nyck De Vries, Red Bull RB19.

New floor in Australia to brings low-speed improvements, but drag remains an issue

However, at AlphaTauri, they are convinced that once the AT04 has achieved its objectives, the team will be able to compete with Alpine. The Faenza team’s new car followed a development path that is a continuation of the 2023 car, although this has failed to unlock the desired performances.

Of course, the AT04 is not a copy of the RB19. In fact, if we take the upper slide of the sidepods, it is not as extreme as that of the RB19, and the tunnel that is created between the shape of the sidepods and the bottom has less extreme dimensions.

Just as Red Bull bellies are more forward and tend to ‘go down’ immediately to compact that area, AlphaTauri’s stay higher along the sides, leaving plenty of room between the bottoms of the sidepods and the floor.

However, moving forward, there will be greater collaboration between the two teams, similar to what is happening between Ferrari and Haas. Franz Tost somewhat confirmed this a few days ago:

I have been in England recently and we will intensify our collaboration with Red Bull on the wind tunnel level and on the parts that can be purchased.”

“We’ll take all the purchasable parts, but the performance-important parts we’ll still have to make ourselves,” he concluded.

One are of particular importance is the floor, which, looking at the specification used by Haas in this 2023, looks a lot like the fund introduced in France on the Ferrari F1-75.

However, if the car of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez is a point of reference in almost everything, that of Nick De Vries and Yuki Tsunoda instead has major gaps. Franz Tost explained the weaknesses of the AT04 after Bahrain:

“It has little aerodynamic load, is unstable under braking, does not reach the apex, slides on the rear, and heats the tires too much.”

“We didn’t hit all of our development goals over the winter. We hit some with the base spec; now we’ll have to hit more of these with updates,” said technical director Jody Egginton.

In Australia, the team started running with a new floorThe goal of this update was to improve low-speed cornering and stability.

“The data says that we have achieved what we wanted, but this is only a first step of development that will continue throughout the season,” commented Egginton.

This new floor has allowed AlphaTauri to run with a more aggressive rake to have more stability under braking and find more load at low speeds,” continued the British technician.

The team found no correlation issues, and the update delivered what the team expected. This will be the basis on which AlphaTauri will continue the development of the AT04 during the course of the season. The changes concern the position and dimensions of the Venturi tunnels and the external side skirt, now larger and longer.

The area of ​​the chute above the entrance to the floor to make the ground was then enlarged and revised in order to increase the airflow above the bottom towards the rear, cleaning instead the one under the machine that reaches the diffuser, for an increase in rear load and the search for greater stability with a ‘cleaner’ flow.

In Australia, even if there aren’t a lot of slow corners, the results have been positive.

Yuki Tsunoda damaged his underbody during free practice, and the Scuderia did not have a spare element, having to go back to the old specification while Nick De Vries was able to continue the weekend with the new component.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have more than one item available per rider, but Yuki will definitely be able to use the new floor again. It was badly damaged, and there was no point in repairing it. However, we managed to collect a lot of interesting data,” explained Egginton.

Tsunoda has also indicated another area where AlphaTauri will have to improve to take a leap in performance:

“In the race, I had a lot of drag, and the speed on the straight was bad,” said the 22-year-old.

This is not good news for the Faenza-based team ahead of Baku, with Tsunoda suggesting the AT04 might be forced to run “without any rear if we want to be competitive in Baku.”

Author: Paolo D’Alessandro

 

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