The AT01, the “first” car built by the Scuderia AlphaTauri squad – has proved to be an excellent single-seater during its debut campaign so far, even managing to become the first non-Mercedes/Red Bull to win a race this season (and in the hybrid era if you include Ferrari).
Whilst the AT01 is of course an evolution of last years Toro Rosso STR14 given the team has changed very little other than in name, the team has managed to create a Formula 1 car that is above anything else that has come out of the Faenza-based factory.
The AT01 takes some inspiration from its big brother, Red Bull’s RB15, though not quite to the same level of Racing Point/Mercedes!
The AT01 in fact has a chassis, suspension and brake ducts very similar in design to those of last years Red Bull, while the gearbox, electronics and Power Unit are of course identical.
The engine and gearbox are not the intellectual property of the Italian team, as they are directly inherited from the Red Bull-Honda synergy. Chassis suspension and braking systems are developed and assembled in Faenza, as they have to be under the 2020 technical regulations.
The technicians, led by Jody Egginton, have taken the multi-link front suspension concept from the Red Bull RB15 and applied it to the AT01. In fact, the arms of the upper triangle of the front suspension do not anchor on the same pivot in the upright holder, but have a split attachment. Adrian Newey developed this solution to look for kinematics that made the tyres work more efficiently and in the right window. Red Bull on the RB16 then moved this solution to the lower suspension triangle.
The AT01 has its own identity in that it is not a real clone like the Racing Point RP20. Compared to its pink rival, which uses Mercedes’ wind tunnel, AlphaTauri has its own aerodynamic base in Bicester. Therefore the number two team does not use Milton Keynes’ Red Bull base.
Comparing the two cars side-by-side, it’s easy to spot the vast differences; bargeboards, front-wing, sidepods, radiator ducts, these all remain unique to the AlphaTauri, and have no similarity with the aerodynamics of the RB15.
The majority of the car is developed by the hundred or so engineers and technicians at the Bicester site and has its own technical philosophy, so simply copying every aspect of the RB15 simply wouldn’t work without redesigning the entire car from the ground up.
The front-wing of the AT01, for example, has an out-wash philosophy, with the flaps that become more neutral in the endplate area. Adrian Newey’s RB15 and 16, on the other hand, has always used an in-wash front-wing.
Fran Tost’s team has worked a lot on the front-wing, to which aerodynamic upgrades arrived at both Spa and Monza, with the last flap at the top cut and curled in the Y250 area. Subsequently, in the Tuscan GP at Mugello some developments arrived at the front-wing of the Faenza stable, where the sidewalk of the endplate was slightly modified, to which a small flow collector was added.
Having inherited the Power Unit, gearbox, and suspension from the RB15, the AlphaTauri rear-end is almost identical to that of the 2019 Red Bull, with Egginton and his engineers doing a great job of lowering the engine cover vents under the upper suspension arms, to improve aerodynamic penetration at the rear. On the 2019 Toro Rosso the vents were very high and wide, and created a great obstacle to the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.
From here you can appreciate the great effort of the technicians from Faenza and Bicester, who working in synergy with the Japanese team at Honda, and with a budget that is anything but unlimited, to create a car capable of competing inside the top ten at every Grand Prix this season.