AlphaTauri will be using the Miami Grand Prix weekend to further evaluate the updates they brought to their AT03 for their home race at Imola, having not had a chance to properly tinker with their new components yet.
With the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix hosting a Sprint weekend, the team only had one 60-minute, weather-affected practice session to trial their new floor and updated brake ducts before going into parc ferme conditions ahead of qualifying.
Yuki Tsunoda landed a seventh-place finish for the team in Sunday's race, with Pierre Gasly coming home in 12th. With no proper idea of how their updates had worked out, Technical Director Jody Egginton believes that Miami will be a better indicator of whether they are going in the right direction.
"As much as we could tell with the limited data, it's sort of doing what it's meant to do," he told media, including RacingNews365.com, at Imola.
"But, similar to everybody else with so little running, and no real opportunity to make some adjustments and rebalance, it's hard to say. But there's nothing, at the moment, which makes us believe it's not generally delivering on what we want.
"We'll have a good look at it in Miami really, where the weekend format gives a better chance to really get into the details of what we've brought to the car."
How the AT03 updates have worked so far
Egginton went on to explain that the team's initial upgrade plans had gone according to schedule, having earmarked the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as the race at which to introduce the new floor.
"This package is pretty much what we determined for [Imola]. It is what it is," he said.
"But, with the budget cap, you've got to make every dollar
count really. So, had this package not delivered in the [wind] tunnel, nothing
would have come here – we'd have delayed.
"But, at the moment, everything we're bringing through is there or thereabouts on plan. But, if the situation changes and we have a breakthrough, we'll get it to the track as quickly as we can."
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AlphaTauri need "more of everything"
Asked about what weaknesses the Imola updates had set out to target, Egginton said that the intent has been to find performance across the board, rather than addressing any particular shortcoming.
"At the end of the day, the target of this update was to bring load across the map, really," he explained.
"There's a bit of a bias to high-speed loading with it but, essentially, it's delivering right across the map so it's bringing performance – low-speed, medium-speed, [with] slightly more bias to high-speed.
"But the target was a bit of everything really, we're so early in the development phase that, as soon as we find something in the tunnel, we'll try to put the package together and bring it really.
"We're looking to improve all areas of the car, there are no extreme weaknesses, but aero load is always a good thing. If you can bring it right across the map, happy days!
"We just need more of everything. We're not fighting any extreme
weakness or anything, we just need to develop the car as quickly as we
"The midfield is very competitive, and we want to move forward. So we feel we've got to develop across the map and just keep bringing the performance."
What's next for the AT03?
After four races, AlphaTauri are seventh in the Constructors' Championship with 16 points on the board.
With the battle of the midfield particularly close in the early stages of the new regulation cycle, Egginton has stated that the goal is to keep finding updates for the AT03 and get them on the car as quickly as is possible under the budget cap.
"There'll be bits and bobs in Spain and then, probably around Silverstone time, we'll have something else a bit bigger again," he revealed.
"In between then, there could well be some smaller stuff – there's always stuff bubbling along in the background.
"If we think it's at a point where we want to give it a go, we'll phase it in as we're replacing parts into the pool. That's something under the budget cap – you want to bring the parts in at a sensible time, you do not want a big pool of parts that potentially could become obsolete.
"So, if there's something ready and it aligns with the phasing of new components, then we'll do it. But the next bigger one will be Austria, Silverstone time, maybe something before then. When it's ready, it comes."
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