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Formula 1

The real reason why teams are concerned about the Red Bull-AlphaTauri alliance

The partnership between Red Bull and AlphaTauri is a hot topic in F1 with one simple reason why some team bosses are concerned about the alliance.

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To news overview © XPBimages

Cast your mind back to the opening few rounds of the 2023 season - and the state AlphaTauri found itself in after a poor start.

Not only was Nyck de Vries struggling to get up to speed in his first full season, but the AT04 was a slow car that even led Team Principal Franz Tost to declare, in public, that he did not "trust" his engineering team anymore after targets had been missed.

Now, had Tost launched such a broadside against a rival team, then that would have been fair game, but to do so against his own outfit? That was extraordinary.

Soon after, the people he felt responsible for the slow start were gone, with Tost himself opting to stand down at the end of the season after 18 years at the helm to make way for the new leadership team of Laurent Mekies as Team Principal and Peter Bayer as CEO.

Bayer especially has made no secret of the fact that new under the new leadership AlphaTauri - or indeed whatever it will be called in 2024 - will pursue a closer alliance with the senior Red Bull team and take more transferable components that the regulations allow.

This has set the alarm bells ringing in the offices of some team bosses, with McLaren's Zak Brown particularly vocal about the developing situation and calling for such cooperation to be outlawed.

But the stark truth is, teams are only worried about AlphaTauri because of the threat it now poses to them - and the millions of dollars it could cost them in the Constructors' Championship.

The signs of an AlphaTauri renewal

After the awful start to the season and just three points on the board and one driver sacked at the summer break, the remainder of AlphaTauri's 2023 was just to earn respectability.

In the United States, the team delivered a massive upgrade that encompassed a new floor, bodywork and chassis tweaks, with the upturn in performance immediate as Tsunoda bagged eighth with the first fastest lap of his career a nice bonus.

Daniel Ricciardo followed this up with a strong seventh in Mexico City as the Faenza squad suddenly had crucial late-season momentum and began to carve into the deficit to Williams, Alfa Romeo and Haas - the other teams detached in their own mini-battle at the foot of the table.

A further upgrade in Abu Dhabi allowed Tsunoda to lead for the first time during the pit-stop cycle as he finished eighth - as the team just missed out on seventh in the Constructors' to Williams by three points.

But in the five Grands Prix and two Sprints from the United States to Abu Dhabi, AlphaTauri scored 20 points, Williams four and Alfa Romeo and Haas zero.

Momentum is everything in Formula 1, especially going into the winter and the upturn in form has piqued the noses of rival team bosses.

At the F1 Commission meeting in Abu Dhabi, some team bosses openly vented their dissatisfaction and concerns over the increased alliance between AlphaTauri and the Red Bull team who had just made mincemeat from them in 2023.

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

The Brown comments

McLaren CEO Brown even penned an open letter criticising the partnership, which has been in place since Dietrich Mateschitz brought Minardi and rebadged it as Toro Rosso for the 2006 season.

It was the first time a team had run something akin to a proper junior outfit, with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari following in the years since with partner teams.

The regulations allow for the sharing of those transferable components (previously known as non-listed parts), which include, but is not limited to the suspension, rear crash structure and gearboxes.

Isn't that what Haas does with Ferrari? Take as many components as the regulations permit? As RacingNews365 found out last year, there are also very strict measures in place to ensure information is not shared between those two teams at Maranello.

In a recent media call, Brown further explained his thinking behind why he feels the alliance should not be permitted.

"I think everything is pretty clear what the rules are," he told media including RacingNews365.

“However, I think the rules need to be reviewed and modified quickly. I think the A-B team ownership is now outdated for the reasons they were put in place many years ago.

“It was before we had a budget cap and had a huge disparity between our budget, Mercedes’ budget and the Force Indias of the world. It was intended to help the smaller teams.

“Now that we have a budget cap that I believe everybody is pretty much running at, it's a much more financially fair [and] equal playing field.

“Therefore we need to maintain fairness for the fans and fairness for the sport. To have teams teaming up, I think is against the spirit of what the definition of a Constructor is.”

That is fair enough perhaps, and a good point, and Brown was very careful not to mention Red Bull and AlphaTauri in his "A-B team" example, but it is fairly obvious who is he talking about - and it isn't the Ferrari/Haas partnership - which itself had some similar criticism labelled at it during Haas's strongest season to date in 2018 when it finished fifth in the standings.

But why?

Well, the simple reason is that AlphaTauri is viewed as a threat, and Haas is not.

If AlphaTauri takes more parts from the class-leading Red Bull, logic dictates that the car will trouble the points more often, and for bigger reward.

That, fundamentally is a headache the likes of McLaren or Aston Martin could do without as they seek to reel in Red Bull and establish themselves in the top echelon of teams this season. They don't want, or need, the inconvenience of potentially looking over their shoulders at AlphaTauri.

As ever in F1, it is pure naked self-interest on behalf of the teams concerned about Red Bull/AlphaTauri - and that is the way it should be.

As Ron Dennis told Eddie Jordan - "welcome to the Piranha Club."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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