Alpha Tauri: Substance over Style?

Alpha Tauri have launched the ATO2, the no nonsense launch shows off the 2021 challenger, complete with revised livery.

The “cool and crisp” livery of the AT02

Alpha Tauri had a good 2020, they were generally consistent, with a solid, if not spectacular package. Pierre Gasly became a race winner at the Italian GP, crossing the line ahead of the McLaren of Carlos Sainz to add his name to Formula 1 race winners. Gasly’s teammate Daniil Kvyat managed a season high of fourth at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola.
The team would finish seventh in the constructors with 107 points.

Pierre Gasly on the podium at Monza, he has joined a list of Formula 1 winners that include Ayrton Senna, Lewis Hamilton and Juan Manuel Fangio

Daniil Kyyat, had a decent season with only one retirement from the seventeen races in 2020, however he was only in the points in seven of these races, with the exception of fourth place in Imola his highest position was seventh. In comparison to Pierre Gasly who won one race and was in the points a further nine times even with two more retirements than Kvyat, it didn’t look good for Daniil.

The strange thing about Daniil Kvyat was that it seemed that everyone but him knew that he was getting replaced at the end of the season.

It was a shame that Redbull and Alpha Tauri could not have told Daniil that he was not going to be in the car for 2021 at the last race of the season, giving him an opportunity to have a “farewell” race.

Daniil Kvyat climbing out of his car after a massive accident at the British Grand Prix, the crash was a failure of the left rear tire/suspension

When the announcement came that Alpha Tauri were putting the talented Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda into the team at the expense of Daniil, it was not a surprise. Pierre Gasly had been confirmed earlier in the season.

Yuki Tsunoda is coming into Formula 1 with solid reputation. With 3 wins and seven podiums in Formula 2 in 2020, it seemed to be almost inevitable that he would make the jump to Formula 1, Redbull had been talking him up pretty much throughout all of the 2020 season.

The talented Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda has signed for Alpha Tauri

Yuki has been fast all throughout his early career, when he was 16 he entered Honda’s annual competition at Suzuka to find the next generation of talent, disappointingly he finished third missing out on the chance to gain Honda backing in Formula 4 (only the top two would qualify backing)
Japanese racing legend and former Formula 1 driver Satoru Nakajima noted Yuki’s pace and recommended to Honda to sign him along with the top two drivers. Tsunoda would go on to win the Formula 4 title.

Redbull and Helmut Marko noticed Yuki’s speed and promoted him to Formula 2, Marko seemed to think he was ready, it was an inspired decision.

Tsunoda driving in Formula 2, he secured 3 wins and 7 podiums during the 2020 campaign.

Tsunoda would take a bit of time to get to grips with the cars in Formula 2, however once he gained that knowledge he became the fasted driver on the grid. A dominant performance in the Abu Dhabi sprint race would cement third in the Formula 2 standings.

Yuki Tsunoda has the talent, the speed, the hunger for Formula 1, importantly he also seems to be able to handle the pressure. We all know the pressure put on the drivers in the Redbull camp.

As the Alpha Tauri AT02 was launched, it was a pleasant surprise for a couple of reasons, the launch was no nonsense with a video on YouTube and renders posted on twitter, also we got to see a revised livery, the navy blue and white remains, but the blue now spreading down the nose. It was a bit of a bigger change than the McLaren car launch.

The beautiful Alpha Tauri AT02

In the technical side of the AT02, Alpha Tauri declined to take the on the rear of the Redbull, believing more in their own package and philosophy. As with every other team they had to redesign the car to take into account the changes to the Aero regulations, the team decided to spend 2 of the development tokens for a new nose, they have redesigned the outboard front suspension, which has meant they have had to update some steering components further distancing themselves from the Redbull car.

It would seem, Alpha Tauri are looking to get rid of the “junior team” moniker and head to a more “sister team” status.
Alpha Tauri are always going to have to listen to Redbull when it comes to the drivers, but at least they can try something different with the car.
Could 2021 be the year that shows Alpha Tauri as a team in their own right and not a just something that is used by Redbull to benefit the main team?