AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost had his say on how he is making sure the team is being safe from COVID-19 and the developments challenges F1 faces.
Having spoken on Sebastian Vettel’s future, and his departure from Ferrari earlier in the week, AlphaTauri team principal Tost, was back in the rapidly-developing news cycle after F1.com shared more of their interview with him.
There were a range of topics touched upon by Tost, and chief among them was the return to racing, currently on course to take place in July at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. He covered some of the safety steps they are taking to safeguard his team and its members from the deadly virus, should it find its way onto the premises.
Already, there will be an elaborate biosphere plan from F1 with strict regulations, all to prevent further spread of the pandemic. “You cannot imagine how difficult it is to get the correct test, the correct doctors, and to find a laboratory that is authorized to do this test and analyze the test,” Tost started.
“It took us a long time but now we have everything together thanks to the work we have done with Formula Medicine and others – we’re working together with doctors from Germany, Austria and from Italy. I think we have now a test which guarantees us valid results. We have a special hall, away from the factory, where we do the tests.
“We want to make sure no one comes into the factory who could be positive. Then we hope that all employees are negative and then they can start working. We will continue to do the tests, we are in discussion now as to whether we do it every 10 days or every 14 days.
“The race team will be tested once more before they travel and when they come to Austria, I think there is another test. If all teams do this procedure, I expect we will have a big chance that no one that tests positive for coronavirus. It is a blood test, with the results divided into two parts.
“The first result we get after 10 minutes and we will know whether a person is COVID-19 positive or negative. For further investigations, they need one day. For example, the test can tell you whether you had already COVID-19 and recovered, you even didn’t recognize it,” summed up Tost, as he became the first team principal to lay down an elaborate plan.
Amid all of this headache, though, Tost and his peers have had to deal with another struggle: the major regulation changes. The initial drafts were ratified and announced in 2019, with the plan for them to be introduced in 2021. However, COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works, and seen the delay in technical rules to 2022.
Some pushed for further delays to 2023, so as to not put the costs of development on teams in the wake of this economic damage. This, Tost says, puts major strain on teams to properly allocate funds. Failure to do so could have catastrophic results.
“We want to bring some upgrades to the car, but first of all I want to know if we race or not,” said Tost. “I don’t want to start making upgrades and then we don’t race. Because of the financial side, we have to save money wherever possible. I’m also very worried about next year.
“Although we can take over more or less this year’s car for 2021 because there is no regulation change, but in 2021, we have to design and fabricate a completely new car for 2022, and I still don’t know how we can manage this from the financial side. To build up such a big project costs a lot of money. But we will see.
“It has been decided this way, I would have preferred to postpone to 2023, but FOM and FIA have decided against that so now we have to get the best out of it. For me, the numbers are still too high. I’ve always pushed for lower numbers simply because we have a global economic crisis. I expect it’s three to four years progress until we recover.
“It’s difficult to find sponsors. While we have a cap of $145m, regarding AlphaTauri, you have to add around another $40m for costs outside the cap so it means we’re talking around a budget of 185 or similar. This is a big challenge to bring together this amount of money.
“If you don’t do so many races this year, we won’t get as much money next year from FOM. Anyway, this has been decided. It’s not a case of just asking for more money, we have to find ways not to overspend – like it is the case everywhere,” summed up Tost.
Like senior team Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner, AlphaTauri’s Tost sided with the call for 2023 push but F1 already said that new regulations will make its debut in 2022. Aside this, he spoke about the strange feeling to be inside rather racing.
Here’s a video shared by F1 on Project Pitlane
Here’s Daniel Ricciardo on some of the races with Toro Rosso
Here’s Christian Horner on how Aus GP got cancelled
Here’s Honda writing about hybrid tech sharing in new Jazz
Here’s Daniil Kvyat on lockdown and more
Here’s Beyond The Grid podcast with Daniil Kvyat
The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani