Franz Tost reveals ‘background story’ around questionable comment

Franz Tost dropped several engineers after they failed to improve the AT04, resulting in them losing his "trust".

Departing long-time AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost has revealed the “background story” behind a comment he made after the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, where he insisted that he doesn’t “trust” his aerodynamic department.

After leading the team since they entered Formula 1 in 2006, Tost is being replaced by ex-Ferrari race director Laurent Mekies from 2024 onwards.

Tost has dealt with a lot over the years; however, the last two seasons have been particularly challenging.

2022 specifically was a bad campaign for the Faenza-based side, as they took a significant step backwards.

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Tost wasn’t happy about this and wanted things to improve, something he was hoping would happen after he was told by engineers that they were making “good progress” ahead of 2023.

Come the 2023 Bahrain GP, AlphaTauri were abysmal, much to Tost’s frustration.

As a result, he stated that he no longer trusted his aero engineers.

“Especially on the aerodynamics side, there are different programmes going on and the engineers tell me that we make some good progress,” Tost said in March, as cited by Motorsport Week.

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“But I don’t trust them anymore. I just want to see the lap time because this is the only thing which counts.” 

Of course, AlphaTauri improved considerably throughout the campaign and salvaged eighth in the Drivers’ Championship.

They’re also now set to work closer with Red Bull once again, which, in theory, should help the side make further progress.

A complete rebrand is set to be completed by the sister team, who underwent several personnel changes following the season-opener.

Tost revealed that those which his post-Bahrain comment was directed at were removed as the car simply wasn’t improving, with new aero engineers having been brought in.

“I must tell you the background story. Our car last year was not competitive,” Tost told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.

“Then I said we have to do something, because I cannot accept that we are rolling around in the back of the field, I want to be at least in the front part of the midfield.

“‘Yeah, yeah. We are working very hard and we have solutions. We know exactly what we have to do.’

“I visited them at the aero department. They told me figures and they said ‘the car will be fantastic. Really good performance, very good figures in CFT, as well as in the wind tunnel, and blah blah blah.’

“Then we came to Bahrain and I did not need to wait for the race. I knew already after the test that we are nowhere.

“Then I got upset and I said to them, ‘what’s going on?’

“‘Oh, you know, there’s coming an upgrade.’ I said, ‘I don’t care about an upgrade. This car must perform well.’

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“Then, in your press conference, I was asked about this and I said, ‘I don’t trust them anymore.’

“If I don’t trust anymore the people, then they are out. This was the case. We changed them and brought in some new people, so we have now hopefully a good team in the aero department.

“I must say, all the upgrades they brought this year so far worked acceptably.”