AlphaTauri headed into testing with an ambitious target to aim for, after Franz Tost set the goal of a best-ever fifth in the constructors’ championship, something Red Bull’s junior team never quite managed.
The renamed Toro Rosso squad had a relatively straightforward test and despite only setting the eight-fastest time of the 10 teams, its performance suggested it might not be far off being in the mix to deliver on that objective.
Carlos Sainz Jr even suggested that, along with Racing Point, AlphaTauri would be McLaren’s main rival at the front of the midfield.
“We’ve got a reasonably good car,” said Tost. “Maybe we have to find something [to improve] understeer but generally speaking the car is working as expected. Both drivers are doing a good job and I’m optimistic we can achieve our goal, which is to be within the first five in the constructors’ championship.”
Technical director Jody Egginton declared himself satisfied with the work AlphaTauri got through during the six days, although suggested the car balance limitation varied with conditions rather than having a fundamental understeer problem.
But with a car that is based around the 2019 Red Bull back end, along with other non-listed parts – the main challenge is to add downforce to a solid platform to improve performance.
“The midfield is fantastically close and we believe we’re right in that mix,” was Eggington’s verdict.
After a smooth run through testing, with a car that’s well-proven in terms of reliability thanks to many parts having a full season of competition in the 2019 Red Bull, AlphaTauri heads into the season in decent shape.
However, a few tenths here and there could make a big difference to whether it’s at the front of the mid-pack, or struggling to make Q3.
Gary Anderson’s trackside verdict
The AlphaTauri looks very much like the Racing Point and the McLaren in that it does everything it’s supposed to do with no big vices.
It’s well balanced but just lacks a bit of grip because the drivers have to use more road in Turn 3 than, say, the Red Bull as it is sliding that bit more.
But it’s not having huge understeer or a snappy rear so it’s a reasonably well-balanced car with a little understeer that allows the drivers to attack.
AlphaTauri has a good base there to work from.
Best time: 1m16.914s, Daniil Kvyat, Friday week two. 1.182s off the pace
Mileage: 769 laps, 134 off Mercedes’ benchmark
In the news
The AlphaTauri name is new to F1 this year, after replacing the old Toro Rosso moniker with a fresh new livery as well. It’s not quite a totally clean sheet for the Red Bull junior team – but nonetheless 2020 still has the potential to be golden opportunity.