The last hour of Max Verstappen’s former team boss has struck

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The last hour of Max Verstappen’s former team boss has struck

Franz Tost, 67, indicated last Wednesday that he plans to retire before his seventieth birthday. However, given the again weak start to the season of his AlphaTauri team and the recent statements by the experienced Austrian, he should consider retiring a little earlier.

Tost has led the team well for almost two decades, but is also ultimately responsible for the disappointing results of the Red Bull sister team in recent years. Earlier this month, the Austrian lashed out at his own engineers, saying publicly that he no longer trusts them.

It goes wrong on several points. Firstly, as former world champion Nico Rosberg also pointed out, he should have discussed this internally. Publicly expressing your distrust of key members of your own team does not show good leadership and cannot possibly benefit the working atmosphere.

Secondly, it is Tost himself who is responsible for putting the right people in the right places. That doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment, given AlphaTauri’s very disappointing performance since the start of last year. While AlphaTauri narrowly lost the battle with Alpine for fifth position in the constructors’ championship in the last race of 2021, the team finished ninth last season. The team also started weakly in 2023 and is one of only two scoreless teams left.

You can expect McLaren to solve the problems sooner or later, with which AlphaTauri currently seems to be the favorite to relieve Williams as the tenth and last team. Perhaps Tost has a point that the team’s engineers haven’t done a good job, but instead of publicly lashing out at team members, he should take action. Personnel changes are quite normal in Formula 1, but few highly regarded personnel seem to be heading towards AlphaTauri. In addition, as a team boss you have to create a structure that makes it possible for the engineers to use their talents. That does not seem to be the case with AlphaTauri.

At the plodding AlphaTauri, the noses are not pointing in the same direction (Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images).
At the plodding AlphaTauri, the noses are not pointing in the same direction (Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images).

Helmut Marko dissatisfied with AlphaTauri

The pitiful level that AlphaTauri is currently displaying is particularly striking when you consider the resources of the team. As number nine of the last championship, they have access to an enormous amount of wind tunnel time and CFD simulations, almost double that of sister team Red Bull. In addition, Helmut Marko recently indicated that the Red Bull parent company is currently investing more money in AlphaTauri than in Red Bull Racing itself. In addition to the weak competitive performance, Tost apparently does not know how to present the AlphaTauri team as attractive from a marketing point of view.

Marko’s dissatisfaction probably also stems partly from the fact that AlphaTauri does not use the option to take over certain parts, the so-called non-listed parts, from Red Bull. Especially given the dominant position that Red Bull currently holds in Formula 1, many teams are trying to copy the constructors’ champion’s car. AlphaTauri has the privileged position of purchasing certain parts at a low price from the sister team, but makes the stubborn choice not to do so. If the car then performs disappointingly, it is logical that this causes frustrations for Marko.

With the high investments and poor results, the question immediately arises: who has been determining what happens at AlphaTauri since the death of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz? In principle, this is the new CEO Oliver Mintzlaff, who is rumored to have less passion for Formula 1 than his predecessor, and who views it more business-like. From a purely business point of view, AlphaTauri does not seem like a good investment right now.

The introduction of the budget cap makes a sale of the team relatively uninteresting, because expenses are limited as a result, while the income of Formula 1, and therefore the teams, has been growing in recent years, partly thanks to an ever-expanding calendar. A team that is well managed is therefore in an excellent financial position. Selling the team is therefore only an option with a high bid, so Mintzlaff will also look at how he can make the team function better with a lower investment.

Mintzlaff’s patience with AlphaTauri and specifically Franz Tost will also be limited, especially as he comes from the much more volatile world of football. If Tost already indicates that he will no longer be active as team boss in three years’ time, it is highly questionable whether he will be able to turn the tide, especially given the decline of the team precisely under his leadership. If Tost takes a good look in the mirror, he can’t blame his CEO and may have to admit that it’s time for fresh blood.

By: Mark Hanselman

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