Formula 1’s midfield battle could feature up to seven teams this year, with the fastest squad changing on a regular basis, according to AlphaTauri’s Technical Director.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have locked out the leading positions in recent seasons while last year McLaren displaced Renault to finish fourth.
AlphaTauri, under its Toro Rosso guise, equalled its best-ever classification by taking sixth, just six points behind Renault.
The outcome of pre-season testing, held in Barcelona back in February before the coronavirus pandemic developed, indicated a tight battle for midfield honours.
“Last year we had our best year ever as a team so we’re on a good trajectory, this year the car is a big evolution of that,” AlphaTauri’s Technical Director Jody Egginton said.
“It’s a very competitive midfield, [so] from fourth down to ninth or 10th is going to be very close this year, we’re in the mix, stating the obvious from testing, to be able to finish the best of the rest, that’s our target.
“It’s going to be incredibly hard and I suspect the fourth-placed team will evolve and change through the season.
“The objective is to be competitive and take the next step on from last year and fight at the sharp end of the midfield, we’re hopeful we can do it but we’re going to have to develop the car strongly to maintain our position.”
Formula 1 team factories have been on an extended shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the usual 14-day closure lengthened to 63 days.
Factories are gradually re-opening as the period elapses, and the situation improves, with AlphaTauri set to resume work next week, ahead of the planned season-opener in Austria in early July.
Egginton explained that the enforced early shutdown, and the altered calendar, means teams will implement a tweaked development programme.
“The development programme we already had in place, we know what we wanted to introduce, but because of the situation with Covid-19 and our earlier and extended shutdown means there have been delays,” he said.
“We go back to work next week, but the activity we worked on – design, aero, manufacturing – have been stopped.
“But the calendar will be different, so parts we might have needed for certain races we won’t need any more, Monaco being one example, so we’re having to change the order of the release of parts, some through the wind tunnel, some not, so we have to change the wind tunnel programme, and change our priorities for manufacturing.
“At the moment there’s a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios in my head and when we get back to work, we’ll put those through [and discuss them].
“But in terms of what we intended to do, what we wanted to work on, we’ll still be working on them, it’s just minimising any delays due to the extended shutdown.”