Fred Vasseur has every confidence in the FIA to manage the synergy between Red Bull and AlphaTauri, but admitted he finds the setup ‘strange’.
AlphaTauri and Red Bull are set for a much closer relationship in 2024, with the Faenza-based squad realigning itself under new management. With former team boss Franz Tost retiring, new CEO Peter Bayer and sporting director Laurent Mekies are heading up the team, which is also set for a new name for 2024.
Senior Red Bull people, like Helmut Marko, have been open about how AlphaTauri will be less independent next year, with the outfit set to use far more shared parts with Red Bull as the company will use every allowance in the rulebook to share resources and components.
Fred Vasseur: What AlphaTauri are doing is a strange situation
While AlphaTauri, as owned by Red Bull, will use as many shared parts as is permissible under the rules, not every rival team is happy about the situation – even less so since AlphaTauri’s performance took a noticeable step forward after taking the RB19’s rear suspension from the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix onward.
Strict measures and procedures are in place to ensure teams can’t share any more information than is permitted under the regulations, and team boss Fred Vasseur is confident the FIA will be able to keep control of information flow – even if he’s not fully onboard with the situation.
“I think we have to police what the teams are doing with their junior teams, which maybe isn’t the right word.” Vasseur said at a Ferrari media lunch last week.
“For me, it is not the right way because, for me, Toro Rosso, AlphaTauri – or Minardi, I don’t know what is the next one! It’s true what they are doing together [with Red Bull] is a strange situation with two teams owned by the same company.
“But the FIA has been able to manage it so far – and I am sure they will be able to in future.”
Red Bull swept all before them in 2023, losing just one race as Carlos Sainz took advantage of an off-weekend for the Milton Keynes-based squad to win in Singapore, with Max Verstappen taking 19 of 22 Grand Prix wins.
Christian Horner has admitted to expecting a closer 2024, due to the convergence of the maturing ruleset, but Vasseur wouldn’t be drawn into saying whether he thinks Ferrari can be closer to Red Bull next year.
“I don’t know if it will be better next year, nobody knows,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, in Abu Dhabi.
“But you know what you are doing in your business and it is always a matter of comparison that you can make one second up and the others are doing 1.5s, then you look stupid, but if they do five-tenths then you look like a hero.
“At the end of the day it is a comparison and we are just focused on ourselves and trying to do the best ourselves.
“I don’t want to be too optimistic but it was probably one of the issues we had last season.
“We just have to be focused on what we are doing and not to think about the outcome of the championship before it is won.”
Zak Brown takes aim at Red Bull/AlphaTauri
While Vasseur seems happy to leave the situation in the hands of the FIA – perhaps due to Ferrari themselves also sharing parts with customer team Haas – Zak Brown was far more clear about where he feels the line in the sand is.
In an open letter released by McLaren on Thursday, Brown wrote: “Most other major sports prohibit the ownership of two teams within the same league because of the obvious potential damage that it does to competition.
“It’s an unhealthy situation because it impacts decisions made both on and off the track.
“Whether it’s a case of having access to more data, sharing components/personnel, or even having influence over a strategic vote, it’s not in the spirit of the regulations.
“It’s important to stand up for independence, competition and fairness, and I’d like to see changes in the regulations to ensure that in future, they stop influence spreading from one team to another through strategic alliances and especially through ownership. Formula 1 should be true to its brand, and every team – except power units – should be totally independent of each other.
“I believe Formula 1 fans universally believe in fairness in competition and a level playing field, and would reject any actions that compromise the true spirit of competition within Formula 1.
“Part sharing of information, shared ownership models, and strategic alliances within the sporting fabric of Formula 1 will only serve to undermine the fans’ belief in fair and fierce competition.”