AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton has been assessing the team’s progress ahead of the 2022 season, noting that have had to work harder than ever to meet their targets over the winter.
Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda managed 308 laps between them during the first three days of pre-season testing in Barcelona, with the Frenchman managing to go second fastest behind Charles Leclerc on day two.
Suffice to say we saw a conservative opening week of running in Spain, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has already confirmed that the Red Bull car will look very different in the second test in Bahrain.
Meanwhile, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has said he is “aware” of the changes going on around them – the Scuderia will almost certainly be one of the teams altering their car before the commencement of the second test on Thursday.
AlphaTauri are a team with proud Italian DNA too from their days as Minardi before Red Bull bought them as their junior team ahead of the 2006 season, and the meticulous design that has gone into this year’s car under the new technical regulations is such that Gasly is aiming to consistently achieve top five finishes this year.
Egginton, however, has a slightly more modest approach – not that this is a bad thing.
“Personally, being pessimistic has served me well, especially since picking up this job three years ago,” he told The Race.
“We’re following our path, we’ve got our processes, we’re doing our thing and we get some things right, we get some things wrong. There’s a momentum in the team. We’re doing good things, we’ve got a good driver line-up, we’ve got quite a stable technical group and a stable team.
“If people consider us to be doing good things, that’s fantastic. But we’re just focused on ourselves. It’s an approach that served me well. The moment you think you’re [doing well] it’s probably the moment it bites you.
“So we’re just getting on with our thing. I’m concerned about more things that I’m happy about, that’s probably normal in this job.”
Being a relatively subservient team to Red Bull – they have fed six drivers to the Milton Keynes side since their induction into the sport – they have parts of their car designed by Christian Horner’s squad, but Egginton finds that a lack of focus on the areas that are not in their control affords them more opportunity to focus on the aspects that are.
“It is a packaging decision [by Red Bull to opt for the rear pushrod configuration], but independent of the fact that we were receiving the rear end from them we had our own targets,” he explained.
“And synergy, taking the rear end off Red bull, has allowed us to put more resources into that. So although you’re receiving a big chunk of the car that you don’t control, the resources that frees up you can push into trying to optimise the packaging around it.
“One of our key objectives with these new regulations was making sure that underneath the skin the car was such that we could do heavy aero development without having to do painful cooling updates and other things, assuming we got our basic numbers right.
“We wanted maximum freedom to be able to develop the aero without expensive side projects in order to make the aero development work. And we’ve achieved that.
“That’s been one of the big philosophies over the last year, to be able to get quick development to the car and not be constrained by something that you didn’t do a perfect job with the first time.”
The 48-year-old reveals that the Red Bull juniors are not constrained in terms of aerodynamic developments, and the team have been pushing hard to achieve what he terms an “aggressive” car design.
“We haven’t had in the last couple of years that comes to mind an aero update that was painfully hard to achieve because a big bit of real estate was in the way. That means you can iterate quickly without all the pain and expense,” he said.
“We’ve been aggressive with this car. You build up the confidence, the belief in your processes and we do push ourselves quite hard.”
The Briton sees a large chunk of his job being to facilitate easy change should AlphaTauri need it, which is particularly pertinent as the cars are set to evolve at monumental speed as the season wears on.
“There’s some things on your car which you could probably track back to what we’ve been doing the last two or three years, but the big focus is underneath that bodywork,” he stated.
“The thing I push [for] is to give the guys as much of a blank canvas as possible to develop without challenges that you don’t want.
“So from our side, hopefully, we’ve got enough scope to be able to make big changes, if you want to do something else on the sidepod we can do it.
“The car we’ve got here is going [to] develop quite quickly.
“We’ve been aggressive on release dates, we challenged ourselves this year more than ever. We hit all of our milestones, but it was a big challenge.
“There were a lot of meetings to make sure we were still on target. But we’ve done it.”
AlphaTauri ended 2021 sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, missing out on fifth to Alpine by 13 points.
Provided they, Alpine and Aston Martin have all nailed the new regulations, this season’s midfield battle could be a magnificent watch, particularly if the likes of Williams and Haas are able to involve themselves in the conversation.