AlphaTauri will not upgrade to the 2020-specification Red Bull rear end this season, despite Formula 1’s regulations permitting it to do so without spending development tokens.
The controversial rule allows teams using year-old non-listed parts supplied by a technical partner to upgrade to 2020-specification this year, a rule that benefits Racing Point and AlphaTauri. Although Haas uses Ferrari-supplied non-listed parts, it is not able to take advantage of this as it used up-to-date parts in 2020.
After a strong season during which it won the Italian Grand Prix and was a regular part of the five-team midfield pack, AlphaTauri plans to stick with the known quantity at the rear of the car and focus its resources on the front end.
“We’re going to carry over this rear end,” AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton told The Race.
“We thought about it long and hard. It’s very nice when you can go to the sweet shop and pick what you want, but the areas we want to develop are at the other end of the car.
“We have to use our resource and budget wisely next year because we have to put a lot of effort into the ’22 car. We’re not uncomfortable with the basic package, so we’re very focused on the areas we’re going to develop.”
While adopting the 2020-specification Red Bull rear end would not directly consume upgrade tokens, it would require changes to be made in other areas of the car.
As the smallest team in that midfield group, the decision to keep that aspect of the package stable – especially given the additional challenge of the minor 2021 aerodynamic rule changes designed to stop downforce levels growing beyond he capabilities of the tyres – is a logical one.
“Some bits you can have token-free, some bits you need to spend tokens,” said Egginton. “We’ve done our due diligence and decided where we want to spend our resource. You can do a lot of work packaging a new rear end or you can put that resource onto the front of the car and do something next there.
“A wholesale upgrade’s not always the right thing to do. You go to the sweet shop but you have to integrate all that to your package. Some of it you might be thinking ‘why are we bothering?’, it’s not doing anything for us. Or maybe we’ll make a mistake or maybe we’ll be under-resourced on another part of the car.
“We’ve got a senior design and engineering team and we sit down and ask which areas are we going to attack. Where’s the biggest return? Where do we want to deploy the budget and the resource? We’ve managed those decisions reasonably well.”
Despite using Red Bull components, AlphaTauri follows its own aerodynamic concept, notably remaining fully committed to the loaded inboard front-wing concept. This means it’s not a foregone conclusion that all Red Bull components will offer a benefit.
The AlphaTauri proved to be a relatively driver-friendly car in 2020 and the aspiration is to build on this without inadvertently engineering weaknesses into what is fundamentally a good car.
So while it will take some upgrades from Red Bull, the decision is being driven by what works best for AlphaTauri’s objectives and development capabilities.
The hope is that building on the package and making further improvements in the way the team operates should result in improved performance and a well-understood car.
“Some of it’s not really aligned with the way we’re going with the car,” said Egginton.
“The areas we’re targeting in performance are the same ones we targeted last year. There’s no terrible weaknesses, we’ve just got to move the bar higher in every area.
“We’ve taken some steps improving as a team but we’ve got to take the next step – [trying to eliminate] the events where we didn’t deliver as well as we should have done. We’ve got to learn how to be better really.
“The trackside engineering team has done a fantastic job. We’ve had a couple of events where we’ve under-delivered, a couple of events where they’ve over-delivered by making a fantastic strategy call.
“The engineers have been brave with the set-up when we needed to be and they’ve worked fantastically well with the drivers. I think that’s one of the strengths of the team.
“There’s no politics and no superstars. But there’s things we have to work on. The team’s not a new team but it’s still quite a young team. So we have to learn from our mistakes.”