F1 Today – 19/02/2021

F1 Today

Alpha Tauri launches the AT02

Alpha Tauri has released images of its 2021 car the AT02 during an online launch on Friday. Pictures and renderings of the car came from the fashion brand Salzburg shop, with drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda.

The car’s livery has been slightly changed from last year but remains the same colours dark blue and white. However, despite the car looking the same, technical director Jody Egginton said all the aerodynamic surfaces had changed as the team adapted to F1’s new downforce-cutting regulations for 2021.

He said, “With the changes to the aero regulations targeting a reduction in downforce, we have been presented with several changes we have got to make to the floor, the diffuser and rear brake ducts and this has required a lot of work to re-optimise around these changes.”

Egginton says the work the team has done in developing car has gone beyond compliance with regulation changes and has involved changes to nearly all aero surfaces. The team has also developed and repackaged large parts of the car.

The team has spent time recovering aero losses following the twenty per cent cut in downforce while trying to improve the operating window of the car. That work is set to continue throughout the season, and maximise the potential of both projects.

Alpha Tauri finished seventh in last year’s constructors’ championship, but team principal Franz Tost believes it can improve on that position if it eradicates its mistakes.

Tost added “In 2020 Scuderia Alpha Tauri was a midfield team, we were fighting successfully against the other teams like McLaren, Renault and Racing Point.

“But our target for this year is to consistently be at the top of this midfield pack and to improve further. To achieve this, we have to avoid reliability issues and finish all races in the points.”

However, he says that can only happen if the team doesn’t make a mistake and concentrated on our job.

Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda replaces Daniil Kvyat at the team this year and will partner Pierre Gasly, who took a surprise victory at last year’s Italian Grand Prix.

Tsunoda added, “I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Scuderia Alpha Tauri ahead of the season, so I’m already developing strong relationships and learning a lot from them, including Pierre, who is an incredible talent.”

Gasly “I’m ready to take on the role of team leader. Yuki is a very quick driver, and he will help us move the team forward. I really believe last year was the team’s best in terms of the way it worked, the development, the performance and the way it managed the race weekends.”


Alpha Tauri targets midfield consistency

Alpha Tauri has set themselves the target of consistently running in the midfield in 2021. Last year Pierre Gasly secured the teams first win in twelve years at Monza on his way to seventh in the driver’s championship.

The Frenchman enters his third full season with the team after being demoted mid-season in 2018. Since returning to the team, Gasly put in strong performances including a podium at Interlagos in 2019, before finishing seventh last season.

He believes the arrival of Yuki Tsunoda means he would “have more responsibility in the team and I’m ready to take on the role of team leader”.

This year he will be partnered by Tsunoda, who finished third in Formula Two last season. The Japanese driver replaces Daniil Kvyat, following his strong debut season in 2020. His ultimate goal is to become the first Japanese to win a Grand Prix.

Tsunoda said he had a lot to learn to get used to the speed of F1 cars and the greater complexity at the highest level of the sport. Adding, “The biggest thing for me though, will be lining up on the grid with so many superstars of the sport – it’s an absolute honour to be competing against some of the greatest drivers in the world.”

Team principal, Franz Tost said: “In 2020, we were fighting against other teams like McLaren, Renault and Racing Point. But our target for this year is to consistently be at the top of the midfield pack and improve further.”


Red Bull to launch on Tuesday

Red Bull will launch its 2021 car the RB16B on Tuesday next week. The Austrian team announced on social media, but no details of the event or how it would launch were confirmed.

The team had a mixed 2020 where they had aerodynamic anomalies with the car which left both Max Verstappen and Alex Albon struggling to get comfortable with the car. However, they managed to make progress throughout the year, winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Red Bull are hoping that the stability in the regulations and much of last years car being carried over, will lay the foundations for a better challenging Mercedes.

Last year team principal, Christian Horner said that the team needed to produce a more consistent car in 2021 after learning lessons from its problems last season.

He said, “I think we’ve understood what those issues are and I think that, hopefully, that can be further addressed as we go into next year. We need a car that performs at a whole variety of circuits, which Mercedes have been very good at producing.”

“That’s where we need to be strong next year. We’ve got to be strong on all types of circuit, particularly with a twenty-three race calendar.”

The team have a fresh driver line up, with Sergio Perez being brought in alongside Max Verstappen. Red Bull hopes that the Mexican’s experience and speed leads to a challenge for the constructors.


News in Brief

Netflix Drive to Survive

Netflix has announced season three of Drive To Survive will premiere on the platform on Friday 19th March. Season Three will cover the unprecedented 2020 season which was affected heavily by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The opening episode is expected to focus on the events in Melbourne last March and the build-up to Austria in July when an outbreak of the virus forced the sport to shut down.

Haas retain Fittipaldi

Pietro Fittipaldi will continue as Haas’s official test and reserve driver for the 2021 season after extending his deal with the American team.

The grandson of Emerson made his debut at December’s Sakhir Grand Prix following Romain Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain. He said, “I’m very happy to be able to continue into my third year with Haas.”

Sprint race should be encouraging for F1

McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes the proposed trial of introducing a sprint race this year is “encouraging” and should be viewed as a positive step for the sport.

Teams are discussing the finer details of the prospect of trialling a Saturday sprint race to set the grid at three Grands Prix this season after it received “broad support” at last weeks F1 Commission. But the finer details will be ironed out in the next few weeks before the opening race in Bahrain.

The plan is for FP2 to become the qualifying session in the normal three part knock out session, the results of that would set the grid for Saturday’s sprint race run to half distance, with half points being awarded potentially. Then the results of that setting a grid for the race on Sunday.

Brown told Sky Sports, “Everyone is in favour of the concept of trying something new. It’s looking like we’ll maybe do it at two or three races this year.”

“What’s important is that it’s an equal playing field in the sense of no reverse grids or anything artificial, but then we do something different, so it differentiates itself from Sunday’s race. The working group is inputting into that.”

He says he is encouraged, and you need to try new things, describing it as a positive step for the sport. Previous plans to introduce reverse-grid races into the sport had been criticised by a number of the grid’s leading drivers. But the new concept may banish some of those reservations.

Daniel Ricciardo said: “At first I was a little apprehensive but I do feel better at the thought of that certainly than a reverse grid. Ultimately if the best guys and the best teams are still coming out on top and it’s not manipulated or artificial, so to speak, then I’m less scared of it.”


BWT linked to sponsorship deals with number of teams

Austrian water treatment company BWT has been linked to both Williams and Haas as a sponsor according to Motorsport.com. BWT was the title sponsor of Racing Point last year, having worked with the Silverstone-based outfit since 2017.

However, the deal came to an end following the teams rebrand as Aston Martin as they wanted to use the iconic British racing green. While there has been no confirmation that BWT wants to continue in the sport. The website says it has learned that the company has been looking at two choices to keep its colours in Grand Prix racing.

One option is to move to Haas, which has been without a title sponsorship since a deal with energy drinks company Rich Energy collapsed midway through 2019.

Although requests to the American-owned team and BWT to comment on the possibility have not been responded to, rumours about the tie-up have accelerated after some intriguing comments in the German media.

BWT has already got links to the Schumacher name they sponsor David, the son of Ralf, who races in Formula Four in America. A German newspaper has linked BWT to Haas and other sources to Williams.

Williams is undergoing a revamp under new investors Dorilton Capital and appeared to run its new FW43B in a plain blue livery at Silverstone on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the team declined to comment on the specific of any BWT talks, however. Saying “Williams Racing is shaping an exciting new brand direction and commercial strategy and this is resulting in significant interest as we begin a new era for the team.”

“By their nature, these discussions are confidential so as a policy, we do not comment on any specifics or speculation.”

Despite links between Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff and BWT CEO Andreas Weibenbacher, it is understood a deal was ruled out because the team was unwilling to move away from the ‘Silver Arrow.’


Hamilton “truly inspired” by Rashford

Sir Lewis Hamilton has described Marcus Rashford’s leading role in tackling child food poverty as “truly inspiring”. The seven-times champion and Manchester United and England footballer have both been named on Time magazine’s Next 100 Most Influential People list.

Hamilton, who has himself played a powerful role in campaigning for social justice and racial equality features in Time’s most recent 100 list recognising the world’s most influential people.

Hamilton said, “I know what it feels like to be hungry,’ he wrote last June as part of a campaign that succeeded in pushing the government to provide meals for students in need during summer vacation.”

“By standing up for the most vulnerable in our society, and using his platform and influence to create positive change, Marcus inspired countless others to join him on this mission and cemented his status as a role model.”

The Englishman says the last year has shown the power of working together towards a common goal and uniting people across the U.K. in the effort to ensure that no child goes hungry.

He added, “His determination, resilience and persistence have been truly inspiring. I cannot wait to see how he continues this important work.”


Monaco begins building circuit

Construction work ahead of May’s Monaco Grand Prix will begin on Monday ahead of the city-state hosting a triple-header of Formula One, Formula E and the Historic Grand Prix.

Last years races were cancelled in April due to the pandemic, despite speculation last month of it being cancelled the Automobile Club de Monaco reaffirmed its commitment to host the F1, Historic Grand Prix and Formula E races in a month.

On Wednesday, the local government in Monaco announced that construction of the street circuit would be starting next Monday.

This will include repainting the track markings and installation of the various infrastructure around the track and introducing traffic restrictions to ensure that the circuit can be prepared to host the three races.

Construction work takes seven weeks with the historic race due to take place on 23 – 25 April followed by the ePrix on 8th May then F1 and F2 on 20 – 23 May.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s triple header is intended to be a one-off due to last years cancellation of F1, F2 and Formula E. It’s also the first proper street circuit race since Singapore in 2019.

The news comes as a boost for F1 regarding its 2021 schedule, which has already been subject to some changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The start of the season has been delayed by one week after the Australian Grand Prix was postponed until November, while the Chinese Grand Prix remains as TBC.


The week ahead

Next week we continue to see teams launch their 2021 cars and on the days they do the launches will dominate the news agenda on the day each team launches. Last year we had a season launch in Melbourne, and Liberty held this on the Wednesday before the aborted race.

We also have a F1 Commission meeting, the central discussions are going to be on finalising details the Red Bull backed engine freeze and the idea to trial sprint races. The sprint race is something I think is gathering momentum in terms of teams supporting, but the test will come this season.

Drivers are starting to return to factories despite the current restrictions, I’m sure the teams are doing there best to follow the guidelines in each country. We need to remember that things are not normal, and that’s shaping preparations for the season ahead.

The results season is set to begin in March when teams, like all business, publish their annual accounts I expect these results to be lower than 2019-20 because of the pandemic. We know we have a budget cap from this year, but it will tell us how much financial they might have for factory and personnel development.

Remember there are no penalties as far as I’m aware this year for overspend, this year is about adapting to the regulations. I am interested also in final results for F1 as we know overall since the season resumed profits have stabilised, but they are not back to normal.


Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.