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Why race wins were not the highlight for departing AlphaTauri F1 boss



His tenure is second among current bosses only to Christian Horner, who started at Red Bull a year ago, and while the Italian side have been underperforming their sisters in terms of results, that was never the intention.

Its focus has always been on developing young drivers, so it has helped Red Bull create two world champions in the form of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. Other graduates either find their footing in F1, or move on and find continued success in Formula E or the WEC.

The Italian Grand Prix, won by Vettel in 2008 and Pierre Gasly 12 years later, is the clear standout statistically.

However, Tost himself prefers to think about the big picture rather than individual results, and he has managed to build a strong organization on top of the former Minardi team.

“When Dietrich Mateschitz called me and said you’re going to Italy now,” he said when asked about the highlights. “When I came out there and saw what it looked like, because I couldn’t believe it was the infrastructure of an F1 team! Then build the team.

“You know, it wasn’t a highlight. It was a fantastic time building with Scuderia AlphaTauri and at the beginning with Toro Rosso. I must say in Italy, especially Emilia Romagna and Faenza, it was a fantastic the competition area.

“There are really good people there, passionate people there. They have a passion for F1, they love working. It’s been a real pleasure to build everything with these people.

“It’s not a bright spot, of course you’ll see now that someone can say the two wins at Monza are good. No, that’s usually everything. And then also to see the team work successfully.

Franz Tost, team principal, Toro Rosso, and Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso

Franz Tost, team principal, Toro Rosso, and Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso

Photography: Steven Tee / motorsport pictures

“Mateschitz says you have to educate young drivers. Then if you see Vettel winning races and titles, the same with Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo winning races and (Carlos) Sainz and (Pierre) Gasly.

“That’s good. Now see how Yuki (Tsunoda) develops and then (Nyck) de Vries will get there too. So, it’s a good feeling for the team.”

Is he proud to be so closely involved in the careers of all of them?

“I don’t like the word ‘pride,'” he said. “I have no reason to be proud of anything. It’s the team. And the team has done a really good job, I must say, and the education of the young drivers, because it’s a lot more complex and a lot more work than people think. .

“Our engineers, especially the data engineers and the race engineers, spend a lot of time sitting with the young drivers, analyzing the race and analyzing qualifying, free practice.

“It took a lot of hard work, so I have to thank the team and the engineers for a great job.”

Just before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, rumors started swirling about AlphaTauri. It has been suggested that Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies will return to Faenza, but the identity is unclear.

But logically speaking, he can only serve as the captain, which means that Tost is out.

The truth emerged in a press release hastily issued before Baku at the specific request of Tost to put a stop to the rumours. Yes, he’s leaving, but in a controlled way and at the end of the 2023 season. He decided to retire at the age of 67 and move on.

Mekis will indeed join, but at a time agreed by Ferrari, working alongside new chief executive Peter Beyer, a former FIA member.

Tost’s assertion that it was his decision is undoubtedly true and was discussed with Matt Schitz even before the Red Bull boss died.

However, with major companies reorganizing in the post-Mateschitz era, it was time for a change for AlphaTauri and its second F1 team had to justify its existence. Horner certainly supports the new two-pronged leadership arrangement, which he believes has the potential to improve the synergy between the two teams.

“It’s my decision,” Tost said. “It started two years ago, when I also discussed it with Dietrich Mateschitz. Because I’m 67 now.

2008 Italian Grand Prix - Sunday Race

2008 Italian Grand Prix – Sunday Race

“When I was younger, I always said to myself, if you’re in the lead, then you shouldn’t be in the seat, you should give that up to someone younger, wiser, with Creative people, driven people.

“Now that I’m going into the 70s, it’s time to say goodbye. I love F1. But it’s a story that had to end. Especially now with Peter Bayer as CEO and Laurent Mekies’ solution, we have two very Great people will succeed me. I think now is the perfect time to leave F1.”

Tost will retain an advisory role as part of the departure arrangements but insists he will not interfere with the new boss.

“I can tell you now that I’m not the type to look behind my back at what Peter and Laurent are going to do,” he said.

“They’re really, really good. They know what to do. I’ll be there at first, when they come, for a month or so. But then 100%, I’ll take a step back. I’m not a guy who advises someone and Tell someone what to do. They know it.

“It’s also important, it’s also a personal wish, a wish from my side, that the team has to step up and go to another level. I’ve been there for 18 years now. That’s always been my intention. New guys, new ideas.

“F1 evolves very fast and they may have a different point of view and they should. And I’m sure they can do a lot better than me. So it’s better for me to keep my mouth shut.”

AlphaTauri is following a recent trend where the team lead role is filled by highly qualified engineers, often in partnership with a CEO who has a more business and political overview of the organization. In other words, it is no longer the job of a clear leader.

“I think it’s a good constellation,” Tost said. “Because then you have one person who is focused on the technical side, and you have a second person who is more in charge of organization, marketing and future strategy. All that stuff.

“Because if you put everything together, it’s really a lot of work for a team leader, so I think this constellation is a good possibility for the future.

“F1, now with 24 races, it’s a lot of work. And they’re a lot smarter than me because I work 24 hours and they give 12 hours each!

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost and Ferrari sports director Laurent Mekies

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost and Ferrari sports director Laurent Mekies

Photograph: Sam Bloxham / motorsport pictures

“Seriously, it would be better to have a chief executive and a team principal because you have to structure that for the future. Racing itself is an intensive job and it’s best split between two people.”

Riders who work with Tost don’t always have an easy time because, like Helmut Marko, he always speaks his mind. However, their perception of him as boss is positive.

“I spent over a year with Franz,” Verstappen said. “Especially when you’re just starting your career, I think it’s good to have someone like Franz by your side, I think he helped me a lot in the beginning too, giving me advice and sharing experiences.

“I think everyone wants to achieve a lot in a short period of time when they come in, but sometimes it’s important to calm things down. Yeah, having these chats with him, I think it helps a lot.

“Of course, he’s managed Toro Rosso and Taurus Mavericks for such a long time. He’s seen a lot of talent come into the main team as well. It’s been an amazing career. And, of course, I think the most important It’s sad to see him go, but at a certain point, when you’ve worked in F1 for so many years, it’s time to enjoy some more family time.”

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“As a person, I really like Franz,” Alex Albon said. “He’s a real racer. I think his approach is very technical, and I think he definitely understands what it takes because he’s got so many new guys on the team.

“I was with the team more or less six months. He really made me understand what it takes to be an F1 driver and almost prepared me for it, because I don’t think people from F2 will ever really understand. His own goals. But he obviously has experience with a lot of people, a lot of drivers.”

“I have a lot of respect for Franz,” Carlos Sainz said. “He’s been part of this team for a long time, with a lot of young drivers involved, then Toro Rosso, now AlphaTauri, and he’s helped us all become better drivers, better professionals. people, better people.”

Tost insists that when he finally stops, he will turn his attention back to skiing, an early hobby he had before motorsport took full hold of his life.

Scuderia AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost at the team principal press conference

Scuderia AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost at the team principal press conference

Photography: FIA Pool

“When I was younger, I was always racing skis,” he said. “But for the past 20 to 30 years, I haven’t had time to ski at all, not even a day in the past three years. Why? Look at our calendar.

“We come back at the end of November, beginning of December. Usually there is no snow in December. Then the best time to ski is February, March – that’s where we test.

“Then we’ll go to Bahrain, then Saudi Arabia this year, then Melbourne, and then the ski season is over, so there’s no time…”


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