AlphaTauri tech boss Jody Egginton admits there’s a part of him that would swap the team’s extra ATR time for better 2022 results, but says it’s a “useful attribute” for catching up.
The Red Bull junior team unveiled renderings of the AT04 during a launch event in New York on Saturday, the team displaying the 2023 colours but not the actual car.
That will only be seen on Tuesday when Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda hit the Misano circuit for a 100km shakedown before heading to Bahrain for the three-day pre-season test.
The 2023 car is said to be an evolution of last year’s AT03, a car that scored just 35 points as AlphaTauri slumped to ninth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
But while that meant the team lost out on prize money, they did gain under Formula 1’s aerodynamic testing regulations.
That’s a sliding scale introduced in 2021 aimed at levelling the playing field whereby the team that won the Constructors’ Championship is restricted in their R&D time while the team that finished bottom of the log has more hours in the wind tunnel and with CFD than another other team.
AlphaTauri, P9 in the standings, therefore has more development time than any other team excluding Williams.
“I would start by saying that I wish we didn’t have it,” admitted tech boss Egginton, “because that would have meant we had been more successful in 2022 and had a higher position in the championship, but the rule is a pragmatic one and fair.
“Obviously, you’ve got more runs in the wind tunnel, more opportunity for aerodynamic development. Wind tunnel occupancy becomes a key point then because you’ve got to make sure you are well enough organised with parts to keep on top of component change times and model set-up to ensure you use the time well.
“Obviously, an increased run count gives you more chance to aerodynamically develop, but regardless of the number of runs, you’ve got to make sure that you use them well and efficiently.
“Quality of the experiment is a vital element of that, and best use of the available time is a key part of that too.
“It doesn’t change the need to make sure you’re using everything as efficiently as possible but yes, it’s a useful attribute to have when you feel you have to do some catching up.”
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Revealing that this year’s AT04 is a “strong evolution from the AT03”, AlphaTauri have used the continuity in the regulations to build on last year’s design.
There is, however, one big change and that relates to the floors with the FIA raising both the diffuser throat height and the floor edges in a bid to minimise porpoising.
“I think the changes that have been made, in all likelihood, are going to reduce the possibility of porpoising,” Egginton stated.
“Last year the FIA introduced the AOM metric to measure the amount of oscillation, while the teams themselves were also very focused on removing the magnitude of this characteristic so, a combination of the regulation changes and what teams have learnt during last year means I expect it to be a lot less of an issue this year.”
It will, it’s been predicted, impact the car’s downforce, prompting the teams to find ways to recover that.
“The increase in floor edge height in the regulations will have meant teams have lost some aero performance,” he said. “However, this will be recovered in the aero development process.
“‘But I also think that fundamentally, the sensitivity of the cars to porpoising should be reduced with this change so I expect to see recovery of the load, but with less risk of getting back into the situation where porpoising becomes a major issue.”