Earlier this year it was announced that there would be big changes coming at AlphaTauri.
There were rumours that the parent company, Red Bull, wanted to put the team up for sale but it was an idea that was ultimately put to rest. Despite vast interest, the decision was made to continue in Formula 1.
However, it would be done under a different guise. Where AlphaTauri had actually distanced itself somewhat from Red Bull in recent years with the latter enjoying a dominant stretch since the start of 2022, that may be different going forward. The team we currently know as AlphaTauri is looking - to the extent that is possible within the regulations - to be increasingly closer to Red Bull.
This turnaround is already causing the team to be on the rise, with a strong number of points scored in the last few races, but by next year this should be even more noticeable through a new name, new colours and new sponsors. It's still not publicly confirmed what these changes will be but the fact there will be major alterations is an open secret.
Some things are also changing within management. Team boss Franz Tost enters his last weekend in Formula 1 as chief of the team this weekend in Abu Dhabi after he himself decided to step down. He will be succeeded by Laurent Mekies, who arrives from Ferrari.
Peter Bayer has also been appointed as the new CEO. His name may not be as well known to the general public, but in the F1 paddock he is highly regarded. The Austrian has extensive board experience in other sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, sailing and at the International Olympic Committee. Under FIA president Jean Todt, he was one of the leading men at the governing body from 2017 to 2022
F1 is booming
In Las Vegas, Bayer sat down with RacingNews365. He explainedd what big plans are coming for the team
"We've made amazing progress on the commercial side,” he said. “We have a new name for the team, a new identity for the team has been developed. In fact, we had the final approval of the shareholders last week.
“We had a meeting in Thailand where we agreed on global strategies and topics. So we're good to go. We have a completely new set of partners coming which is super exciting.
"We are also lucky, of course, that F1 is booming more than ever. In Vegas, you can feel and see the growth that F1 has gone through. So for us, it's exciting news. The important and significant partnerships, they simply take time to discuss all the details but ballpark figures, everything is agreed.”
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Two reasons for direction change
While the management personnel is changing, AlphaTauri is benefiting from the fact that F1 is hotter than ever. This is partly why Red Bull's new board, which took over from the late Dietrich Mateschitz, chose to continue with its sister team in F1
"There are two main reasons [for the changes],” Bayer said. “It all goes back to the discussion earlier this year, whether they wanted to sell the team. The interest was significant, a lot of equity funds are currently chasing F1 teams from all over the world, but certainly, in the USA there was a lot of interest.
"Once the decision was made by Red Bull to continue investing in the team, they saw an opportunity to relaunch the team, which was important for them. They were not particularly happy to have one team winning World Championship titles and the other team, at that time, being at the other end of the grid. So we needed to change something.
"That coincided with Franz's decision to take a step back and focus on his own life after dedicating decades to this team. So they immediately decided to look for new management and look for a new name. At the same time, Red Bull also wanted to reset the direction with the AlphaTauri clothing brand.
The team's own identity
While the clothing brandAlphaTauri will not cease to exist, the fact that an F1 team carries the marque's name no longer fits with the new direction, Bayer stressed.
"AlphaTauri is going to do things differently,” he stated. “They're going a slightly different direction away from flagship stores to department stores, shop-in-shop concepts. Business is doing well, but they are not making enough money to sponsor an F1 team.
"So all of that opened up a new discussion, whether we will go for a rebranding, whether we will open the process for a new identity which we saw thought was extremely important. The sport is booming.
“Fans need to understand who you are and which team you belong to. And we didn't think it's ideal that the team is named after a sponsor. There should be an identity like we had with Toro Rosso.”
This decision will also benefit the fight with rival teams off the track, claims Bayer.
“We're fighting on the commercial side. We're fighting against brands like Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin. We need a good identity and all of that together really gave us food for thought and allowed us into to start the process. So we want to have an identity and then the naming rights type of sponsors can add themselves, like you see up and down the paddock.”