Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko wants to keep AlphaTauri. But not necessarily the name… Scuderia AlphaTauri, also known as AlphaTauri, is based in Italy and is one of two Formula One constructors owned by the Austrian drinks company Red Bull, the other being Red Bull Racing.
Speculation and rumour seemed to suggest that Red Bull were seriously considering selling its junior Formula 1 team due to cost savings and frequent underperformance in recent seasons, despite the Frenchman Pierre Gasly’s surprise win for the team, the first under the AlphaTauri name, during the 2020 Italian Grand Prix.
AlphaTauri & Torro Rosso: A long history
The team name has changed quite frequently over the decades, most recently to promote the AlphaTauri fashion brand. The constructor based in Faenza in Italy was rebranded from “Toro Rosso” to “AlphaTauri” for the 2020 Formula One World Championship.
Further, Scuderia AlphaTauri is no longer a junior team designed to bring up new talent to promote to the senior team, but rather a sister team of Red Bull Racing, according to Franz Tost and Helmut Marko. Toro Rosso’s best finish was Sebastian Vettel’s famous 2008 win at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.
Previously Toro Rosso functioned as a junior team for Red Bull Racing, with the aim of developing the skills of promising drivers for the senior team. The team made its racing debut in the 2006 season after previously racing as Minardi.
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Minardi was an Italian automobile racing team and manufacturer founded in 1979 in Faenza by Giancarlo Minardi. The team contested the Formula One World Championship from 1985 to 2005 with little success, but gained a loyal following of fans.
Motorsport has long been a part of the Minardi family. Giancarlo Minardi’s grandfather ran a Fiat dealership in Faenza from 1927, while his father, Giovanni Minardi, raced his own cars in the late 1940s. After his father’s death, Giancarlo took over the racing part of the family business. The team competed for the first time under the Minardi name in the 1980 European Formula Two Championship, competing in the series until 1984 after which, Minardi took the decision to enter Formula One the following year.
Minardi’s best finishes were 4th places for the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix, 1991 Portuguese Grand Prix and 1993 South African Grand Prix.
In 2001, to save the team from folding, Minardi sold it to Australian businessman Paul Stoddart, who ran the team for five years before selling it to Red Bull in 2005.
Team up for sale again?
The fact that parent owner Red Bull, which is recently been put under a new direction with a new CEO, expects the Italian team to act like an equal to Red Bull Racing rather than a junior, means an increased pressure to perform.
Indeed speculation was rife that AlphaTauri was going up for sale at the start of this year if performances didn’t improve. Something current team boss Franz Tost wasn’t 100% sure about himself.
Tost even publically criticised his own technical department in a remarkably harsh manner during a time that sees his team potentially up for sale this year.
“During the winter months [the engineers] told me the car was fantastic and that we had made great progress. Then we come to Bahrain and we’re in no-man’s land. What can I say to that?” he said after a particularly poor performance this year in Jeddah.
“I don’t trust them anymore…”
Tost is unlikely to believe claims of improvements in the next races too seriously. “I don’t trust them anymore. I want to see it in the lap time, that’s all that matters,” the 67-year-old rumbled on.
AlphaTauri had finished qualifying in Bahrain with Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda only 18th and 14th. In the race, the retirements of the competition pushed both cars a bit forward. But it was not enough for points.
Team sale rumour
With the new boss of Red Bull in charge, it is said that Oliver Mintzlaff is looking carefully at the spend in Formula 1. The German press broke the story last month that AlphaTauri could be sold to save costs. Something Franz Tost himself denied publically with a silent Red Bull neither confirming nor denying it.
The performance of AlphaTauri in 2022 has been poor, and one would not be surprised at all to hear that Franz Tost has been given the proverbial ‘kick up the arse’ by parent company Red Bull, who’s new CEO Oliver Mintzlaff is not a motorsport fan (unlike the recently deceased founder Dietrich Mateschitz).
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Marko: AlphaTauri name change
“We have to bring in money and improve the results” said Dr Helmut Marko. This was only “logical” considering the current situation of the racing team.
“We have cut back a bit on the AlphaTauri branding because [the fashion label] AlphaTauri is only sold in a few countries where we compete. It’s only about three or four countries,” says Marko.
And if AlphaTauri itself takes up less advertising space, that leaves more room for external sponsors. “The task is quite simple: we have to bring in more money and improve the results,” says Marko. To help achieve this, AlphaTauri recently hired a new Sales Manager to help fund the second Red Bull Racing team.
According to Marko, AlphaTauri, based in Faenza, Italy, is “not for sale”. However, Red Bull is giving considerable thought to the future direction of the team.
“We need a second team, quite simply.” One reason for this, he said, was the Formula 1 powertrains from Red Bull Powertrains, which are otherwise only used by Red Bull.
“There we have to make sure that everything fits, that everything is under control,” says Marko. All the more so when Ford soon joins as a partner for the Formula 1 powertrains.
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