Tost explains barrier to copying Mercedes design

Jon Wilde
AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost speaks. Barcelona February 2022.

Franz Tost has explained why replicating Mercedes’ eye-catching new design is a non-starter, especially for his AlphaTauri team.

Mercedes were the talk of the paddock on the opening day of official pre-season testing in Bahrain when they rolled out a W13 car with zero sidepods.

Sky Sports F1 broadcaster Martin Brundle described the bodywork as looking like “a bar of chocolate left out in the sun”.

When rumours had first emerged about the new look of the Mercedes car on the eve of the Bahrain test, there had also been suggestions the upgrades could be worth up to a second per lap – although there was no sign of that in Bahrain.

That does not mean to say, however, that the true pace of the car was on show in testing.

However, if the Mercedes does turn out to be the class of the field, either in the opening grand prix at the same Sakhir venue or in the next few races, rival teams are probably precluded from emulating the design.

Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes zero pod W13. Bahrain March 2022

Tost says it would essentially require having to rework the whole car, which would not be feasible under the $140million budget cap each team has for the 2022 campaign.

“It’s not just the sidepods,” said Tost, quoted by “That’s only one part of it.

“If you had to change something, you would have to change the whole aerodynamic philosophy.

“I don’t think we could make the effort because if you look at the cost cap, we are pretty much at the limit in our calculation at the end of the season.

“I don’t think we could make the effort to build a completely new car.”

Tost also said he was surprised by the variety of interpretations he had seen along the pit lane and is just hoping AlphaTauri have got theirs right, as drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda aim to improve on last year’s P6 in the Constructors’ Championship.

“I must say currently I’m impressed nearly by every car,” Tost told

“Why? Because there are so many different aero philosophies, if you look to the sidepods, if you look to the floor.

“I am surprised, to be honest, because I expected the FIA and the people who wrote the regulations did it so the cars would all look quite similar and there would not be a big difference because they want to bring the cars all together.


“But now, [there are] all the different solutions from the aero side as well as from the mechanical side (suspension) and that means it could be that some teams have found a very good solution, others maybe are behind.

“I hope we have found a reasonably good solution and that we are performing well. But it’s interesting and I think nobody expected such different cars.”


Mercedes stun paddock with no sidepod W13

Mercedes have stunned the Formula One paddock with their W13 having no sidepods.