Franz Toast: I don’t want a repeat of 2020

In 2020, AlphaTauri made a big name for itself with the victory of Pierre Gasly at the Monza stage. However, team leader Franz Toast is ambivalent about last season’s performance. With the new AT02 machine, Toast is pinning serious hopes on the fight for higher positions.

Q: Has the Covid-19 epidemic prevented the development of a new machine?
Franz ToastA: For engineers, this could not be an excuse, so everything went according to plan. I don’t want to jinx it, but until today, the team has not recorded a single case of coronavirus, with the exception of a sick driver who was in Dubai.

Q: Like Red Bull, you are from Austria, while the team’s base is located in Italy. Given the current situation, are you able to come home?
Franz Toast: I would like to return home to go skiing, but unfortunately this is not possible at the moment. The risks are too great. I stayed in Italy for Christmas – spent time at the base and worked. Skiing will have to be postponed for another year.

Q: Did the team manage to achieve their goals last season?
Franz Toast: If we talk about a place in the Constructors’ Cup, then no. If we talk about the number of points earned, then we are happy. The victory, of course, was also very important.

Unfortunately, we failed some races due to our own mistakes. Pierre Gasly got off in Imola because of a faulty radiator, which should not have been in the car at all.

There were other technical flaws, for example, at Daniil Kvyat at Silverstone. The brake air duct was blocked, causing the tire to explode. The team needs to take a step forward in terms of reliability. This state of affairs does not suit me.

Question: But it was possible to achieve more speed from the car?
Franz Toast: Yes, the car had the required characteristics. We had to fight more often at the head of the middle group of teams.

Question the Stage in Mugello took place immediately after the race in Monza, so the team was not able to properly celebrate the victory. After the season ended, did you celebrate that success?
Franz Toast: I’m not a big fan of holidays, so I was glad that the stage in Mugello was waiting for us right away. For me, the race ended with the checkered flag. I am not at all interested in the awards ceremony and the like.

Q: In 2021, AlphaTauri will further expand its cooperation with Red Bull. Will using last year’s “senior” team’s chassis limit your development?
Franz Toast: The team does not feel that something is limiting it. We agreed in advance that we will use their chassis from last year. In terms of aerodynamics, each team has room for further development. These steps are taken in order to save money, and I believe they are correct.

Q: When are you planning to switch to developing a car for 2022?
Franz Toast: First, we must assess the speed of the current car relative to its competitors. I hope we can fight at the head of the teams of the middle group. We are not planning major updates during the season, and at some point our CTO must decide that it is time to stop working with the 2021 car.

The main focus is already on the 2022 car, although there is no specific date yet when we will fully switch to the new project. At the latest, by June-July, we will direct all resources to the 2022 car.

Q: Can you benefit from working with Red Bull to develop the 2022 car?
Franz Toast: We can work with Red Bull Technology only within the frameworks in which the regulations allow, although I would like to see from Red Bull we get the whole rear end of the car. It will be difficult at the very beginning under the new regulations, but it should become easier over time.

Q: Will the 2022 Regulations change enough for AlphaTauri to compete in the forefront?
Franz Toast: For our part, we must also make efforts for this. In particular, our infrastructure is not yet sufficiently developed, but we want to equalize the chances thanks to the new regulation. I hope the results become more solid, but I don’t expect it until 2023.

The best teams will be able to continue working with all of their employees until June 2021, putting all the effort into the 2022 machine. So their technical superiority will continue, but then budget constraints should work.

Q: How much has budget constraints affected your team?
Franz Toast: At the moment our budget is below the legal limit. Of course, we still need to pay attention to costs, because next year the budget will be reduced by another five million, and we will not be able to use old Red Bull parts in the 2022 car. That is why next season we will be on the brink, but in 2023 it should be easier, because we can use the old developments of Red Bull Technology, saving a lot of money.

Question In Formula 1 they plan to switch to new power plants in 2025. What do you think the ideal engine should be?
Franz Toast: I would leave the turbocharged V6, but without the MGU-H. The MGU-K motor generator should stay as we need an energy recovery system. In addition, the focus should be on the use of environmentally friendly fuels.

Formula 1 needs more manufacturers. Therefore, a new powerplant does not have to be expensive for Cosworth or Mario Illien to build their own motor. In order to save money, it is worth limiting the use of certain materials. The engine must be durable so that there is no need for a large number of kits per season. It will also reduce the cost of bench testing.

Question In Red Bull Racing signed a contract with Sergio Perez, which was not included in the youth program. Does this mean that there have been no really talented riders on your team in recent years?
Franz Toast: I think we chose good riders. We were represented by Carlos Sainz, who is now in Ferrari, and Daniel Riccardo, who joined McLaren this year. Pierre Gasly won the race. In the end, it was Red Bull’s decision to invite Sergio.

Perez is a seasoned rider who knows what to expect on the same team as Max Verstappen. He’ll probably handle the situation better.

Q: Do you think Pierre Gasly will still have a chance to return to Red Bull Racing?
Franz Toast: To believe does not mean to know, so I will be careful in my predictions. Pierre is a great driver, but now I’m just glad that he was not taken from our team. We have a good pair of pilots.

Q: Will AlphaTauri be challenged by the revenue decline due to the eventual cancellation of races in 2021?
Franz Toast: I do not want a repeat of 2020, as a result of which we did not receive a decent amount of money due to the reduction in the number of races and the lack of spectators in the stands. This season we have taken into account the risk factor, but we will have a difficult year due to the parallel work on two projects.

Developing a 2022 car is costly, so I hope all races take place, spectators return to the stands and the races start to generate income. Uncertainty is, of course, uncomfortable.

Question: But the future of the team does not raise questions?
Franz Toast: The existence of the team is not in danger. But, of course, Red Bull is not ready to endure forever when teams are working in the red. I really hope that we can get back on track.

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