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Interview: AlphaTauri confirm driver line-up philosophy change

For a long time, the AlphaTauri team has fielded young Red Bull hopefuls with the view of nurturing them for a potential future seat at the front-running sister team. But as CEO Peter Bayer exclusively tells RacingNews365, that philosophy has changed.

Ricciardo Brazil
To news overview © XPBimages

The two-team set-up that Red Bull has deployed in Formula 1 across the last 18 years has given opportunities to young talent with the hope of a future drive at the head of the F1 field.

Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are just some of the names that have passed through Red Bull's sister team before finding success at the front-running squad.

For a long time, the AlphaTauri outfit (named Toro Rosso from 2006 to 2019) has been seen as a B-team, an entry point for Red Bull juniors to find their feet in F1.

However in recent years that situation has changed with Red Bull having very few rookie options readily available.

Experienced figures such as Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo have held positions within the team in recent years amid a shortage of F1-ready Red Bull junior drivers.

Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365, AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer explained that the team has now settled on a new philosophy of operating that will no longer involve fielding two rookies in one season.

“We certainly will not be a B-team,” he said. “But I think we'll still try to fulfil one of the other strategic directives, which is to fulfil the junior development program, but we'll do it slightly differently.

“We will not race with two juniors, we will always have one experienced driver who will take one young driver under his wings and help him to develop.”

'2023 line-up showed benefit of experience'

Daniel Ricciardo will compete for the Faenza-based squad next year despite having 12 seasons of F1 experience under his belt.

The Australian was called up midway through this season to replace Nyck de Vries and will stay for another full year as he aims to return to Red Bull in 2025.

Ricciardo will partner Yuki Tsunoda who enters his fourth campaign in 2024 - forming one of the team's most experienced driver line-ups in its 18-year history.

“We see it actually works,” Bayer said. “Yuki is not a junior anymore, to be honest. But compared to Daniel he is.

“We see the positive impact it has on both, we see how much Yuki can learn from Daniel, we see how much we can learn from Daniel in terms of set up of the car and even in terms of strategy, sometimes he would come up with an idea while he's in the car.

“For us to be to be competitive, that certainly is the way forward.

“It’s a request from the shareholders to focus on competitiveness because competitiveness will help us also to commercially balance and reduce their obvious injection into the team.”

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

AlphaTauri target P5 result

Next year will mark a new era for the squad, who will discard the AlphaTauri moniker and enter the season under a new name.

Franz Tost will no longer run the day-to-day operations as ex-Ferrari Race Director Laurent Mekies will take on the Team Principal role, reporting to CEO Bayer.

The team will also work closer than ever with Red Bull Racing and purchase as many parts as allowed by the technical regulations as it aims to make strides up the pecking order.

“That also came out from the strategic directions which have been given by the shareholders, which is that we shall maximize synergies with Red Bull Racing, the ones we are allowed to by the FIA in terms of parts,” Bayer said.

“Using all the parts, which we haven't done this year [is something] we consider as an error from the team, so that's something we'll definitely change for next year.”

Having enjoyed a late-season resurgence this year to end the campaign eighth in the standings, Bayer outlined that the team is aiming to reach fifth in next year's Constructors' Championship.

“The shareholders, they don't want us to win the World Championship, I think it wouldn't be realistic, but they want us to fight, clearly, for P5.

“While Red Bull Racing will be fighting for P1, our target is P5, that's what we're aiming to achieve, which is significant looking at the competitors.

“And in order to achieve that, we will have to be a proper Formula 1 team. That's why we're investing in facilities.”

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