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Formula 1

Gary Anderson: AlphaTauri should copy Red Bull more than this

by Gary Anderson
7 min read

The new AlphaTauri Formula 1 car has just been shown to the world. Or at least renders of what it tells us is the new car have. I’m not completely sure that is 100% true, mainly because the lines are so neat and simple and I don’t believe that is how you get the best from the aerodynamic flow structure around the surface of a current F1 car.

My initial impression is that the radiator intakes are more Ferrari style than Red Bull style whilst the sidepod leading edge undercut is long and very simple.

Yes that’s a bit like last year’s Red Bull but I’m pretty sure that aggressive undercut on last year’s Ferrari was a good way to make the floor at the front corner of the side work harder.

I think we have to wait until we see the car AlphaTauri uses for testing before we go into too much detail but if this happens to be representative then it will probably be an improved package but I’m not so sure it’s a big enough step forward.

When setting out to design and build a new car for the second year of a set of regulations, it’s always difficult to lay down the initial concept that’s required to start the research and optimisation process around. Your database will now contain how the other teams went about their first year with these regulations too.

The AlphaTauri AT04 will have gone through that while under pressure from Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko during a poor 2022 season, during which time Red Bull ultimately won both drivers’ and constructors’ championships. This pressure can make such a major decision very difficult.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Singapore Grand Prix Race Day Singapore, Singapore

The loss of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz will only have made all of this tougher. I’m pretty sure that the new management group now running Red Bull overall will want to stamp its authority on how money is spent on what can only be considered marketing. So there will be plenty asking ‘do we need two F1 teams?’

Bear in mind Toro Rosso, as it was originally called, was formed when Red Bull bought Minardi ahead of the 2006 season. It changed its identity in 2020 to be named after Red Bull’s fashion brand AlphaTauri, giving it a purpose beyond the original idea of it being a junior driver school. Things have changed dramatically for this team over the years.

There is no doubt that the main Red Bull team justifies the expenditure and brings in the advertising TV time that is required to sell its product but I would be asking the question: ‘does AlphaTauri add to that?’ even with its fashion branding.


Red Bull
2005 7th
2006 7th 9th +2
2007 5th 7th +2
2008 7th 6th -1
2009 2nd 10th +2
2010 1st 9th +8
2011 1st 8th +7
2012 1st 9th +8
2013 1st 8th +7
2014 1st 7th +6
2015 2nd 7th +5
2016 4th 7th +3
2017 3rd 7th +4
2018 3rd 9th +6
2019 3d 6th +3
2020 2nd 7th +5
2021 2nd 6th +4
2022 1st 9th +8

* As Toro Rosso 2006-2019

So let’s have a look in more detail. Yes, 2022 was the first year of a completely new set of regulations and together with the introduction of the cost cap, it required a whole new way of working for all the teams.

It is only one year, but if we take the performance over the season as an average percentage we get the following.

Ferrari 100.103%
Red Bull 100.156%
Mercedes 100.885%
McLaren 101.347%
Alpine 101.378%
Alfa Romeo 101.721%
AlphaTauri 101.800%
Haas 102.022%
Aston Martin 102.176%
Williams 102.578%

If we take the fastest AlphaTauri car in qualifying for each race, we get an average grid position for the season of 11.23. So before you even start a race, your fastest car is outside of the top 10, which is the last of the points scoring positions.

Over the years, we have always debated whether it is the engine or the chassis that most influences a team’s performance. In reality, it’s a bit of both, but if you use the same engine as another team then any difference in that area should be minimised. Then, all of the deficit is all down to the chassis and/or (this bit’s debatable) the driver.

Looking at it that way and taking the fastest car with each different power unit, we get the following as we asses the relative performance of the customer teams using what should be the same spec of engines as the works team. Yes the works team will have a small advantage around the installation in the chassis as it can optimise it and a customer team has to deal with what it gets – but more on that later.

Here’s how the performance stacked up in the three sets of teams supplied by Honda (RBPT), Ferrari and Mercedes last year. There’s no entry for Alpine as it is the only team using the Renault engine.


Honda Ferrari Mercedes
Red Bull Datum Ferrari Datum Mercedes Datum
AlphaTauri +1.644% Alfa Romeo +1.618% McLaren +0.462%
Haas +1.919% Aston Martin +1.291%
Williams +1.693%

We should probably take the Mercedes data as a bit of a red herring. We all recognise that the works Mercedes team underperformed in 2022 and it was still comfortably faster than most of its customers. If the other teams using its power unit performed as we’d have predicted relative to Mercedes then their numbers would only get worse.

But this is all about AlphaTauri, which was +1.644% away from the only other team using the same, or what should be the same, power unit. That team was big brother Red Bull, which AlphaTauri has a very close relationship with – to the extent of now even using the same windtunnel. So why not, for at least one year, bite the bullet and increase that relationship?

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Preparation Day Spielberg, Austria

If I was in team principal Franz Tost’s shoes, that is exactly what I would be doing. After all, he’s the man responsible for AlphaTauri’s continued existence.

Haas has set the precedent for how a team can be built around using every nut and bolt from a partner team that the regulations allow. It even benefits to some extent from a technical relationship with Ferrari.

What was Racing Point, now Aston Martin, set the precedent for what is acceptable in 2020 with what was then called by many the ‘Pink Mercedes’. It showed the level of detail you could go to as far as copying – sorry, following – the concept of another team. Although the regulations have been tightened up, copying is still permitted provided you don’t use certain forms of scanning or trick photography to do it.

So using everything it can from Red Bull and starting its research around a 2022 Red Bull concept would, without doubt, have put AlphaTauri in a better place to start the development of its 2023 car.

I am sure Jody Egginton, AlphaTauri’s technical director, would not agree with me on this and as an ex-technical director I would have fought tooth and nail against it. In fact, I did on quite a few occasions. But now I have stepped back from all that pressure it might not have been a bad idea to embrace what Red Bull and AlphaTauri refer to as ‘synergy’ between the two.

With the cost cap limitations on development spending over the season it is critical to put your best foot forward at the start of the year. I don’t think anyone could argue that the Red Bull wasn’t one of the most competitive all round cars in 2022, so it’s not a bad place to kick off the new season.


What we have seen in the launch render images shows that AlphaTauri has once again gone in its own direction.

Yes, there is a resemblance to Ferrari with the radiator intake detail and it has used the complete rear end from Red Bull as it did last year. But this is not a copy of last year’s title winner. And maybe it actually should’ve been.

I’m sure what we have seen so far will be nothing like what we see when AlphaTauri starts running the car in pre-season testing in Bahrain. When that happens, we can see how deep its relationship with mothership Red Bull really is.

As I said earlier, I have fought against using the old Photoshop copy and paste button on many occasions and AlphaTauri has decided the same.

If it is the wrong decision it could very quickly cost jobs and even the existence of the team.

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