Alpha Tauri’s late-season surge in performance has turned heads in the Formula 1 paddock, signaling a successful and newly controversial collaboration with its parent team, Red Bull Racing. As Alpha Tauri prepares for a comprehensive rebranding in 2024, including welcoming new bosses Peter Bayer and Laurent Mekies, their recent developments in the shadow of Red Bull’s utter dominance of F1 have not gone unnoticed.
Franz Tost, in his final race as the team’s long-standing boss, hinted at the pivotal role of new developments, particularly focusing on the car’s critical floor and diffuser. His comments in Abu Dhabi, “I hope the floor works. That’s the only thing that’s interesting for me – the new floor and diffuser,” reflected a keen interest in the technical evolution of the team’s car even as his long career comes to a close.
The paddock is abuzz with speculation that the strengthened and official new ‘synergies’ between Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri are yielding significant performance upgrades. McLaren team boss Andrea Stella acknowledged this, noting, “They are the star in the slow corners now.” This observation points to the technical improvements Alpha Tauri has managed to implement effectively – a major concern in a sport as contentious and high-stakes as F1..
While rival teams have so far remained publicly silent about any concerns regarding the closer relationship between the two Red Bull-owned teams, the history of such collaborations has been contentious. Tost recounted an instance from 2008 when Alpha Tauri, then under the philosophy of leveraging Red Bull Technology and promoting young drivers to Red Bull Racing (and officially called Toro Rosso), faced pushback from other teams after a notable success. “Didi Mateschitz said to me in 2005, ‘Franz, you’re going to go to Italy to build this thing’,” Tost recalled in an interview with Kronen Zeitung newspaper.
He further elaborated on the team’s strategic approach and its implications: “The philosophy was clear – use the synergies of Red Bull Technology and promote young drivers who then go to Red Bull Racing and win races and championships. And we were good at that – maybe too good. Because when we won at Monza with Sebastian Vettel in 2008, the teams got excited and demanded that we build our own car. And of course that was a huge challenge because we didn’t have the infrastructure.”