Tost expects a rusty start for the sport

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AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost expects a busy first day in Austria when the 2020 F1 season gets underway with teams and drivers being eager to kick off the rust following a long period away from the race tracks.

Since the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix in the middle of March, the on-track action in Formula 1 has been put on hold. The sport is working on establishing a new, revamped calendar for the 2020 season. The action is set to get underway in Austria on July 5 with a second race on the modern Red Bull Ring facility at the following weekend.

Speaking to the official Formula 1 website, Tost has revealed that he asked his mechanics to disassemble the team’s 2020 car, the AT01 which means that the Faenza-based outfit will need some time to prepare their race machines for the season-opening race.

“It will be a big challenge [to restart operations ahead of a new season start]. I wanted the cars completely disassembled and then built up again like when we built up the first car. Then we have pit stop training to do and I’m also worried about the drivers, as they have not sat in the car for such a long time.”

The Austrian stressed that reliability will be of key importance as drivers will need to get up to speed after being deprived of their „offices” since winter testing in Barcelona. “It’s very important the car is reliable and we can go out and we don’t have any problems, because we have to do as many laps as possible,” says Tost.

“I think this is the strategy from all the teams, you will see on Friday in FP1 in Austria, you will see many cars on track, you won’t have people to wait in the pit lane for a better track and more grip. All drivers will go out to get the feeling back for the speed, for the brakes, for going into the corners and so on.”

The sport has brought forward its traditional summer break to the months of March, April and May and has also extended this shutdown period from 14 days to 63. With most of the teams slowly being able to go back to the drawing boards and test benches in the coming days, engineers can start working on upgrades for the 2020 cars. However, it will be a tough task to master to design upgrades to the cars that have not been run since the pre-season testing.

“We want to bring some upgrades to the car, but first of all I want to know if we race or not. I don’t want to start making upgrades and then we don’t race. Because of the financial side, we have to save money wherever possible,” he said.

Following discussions with the team, Formula 1 has agreed to the retention of the current 2020 chassis for next season. While it is expected to help the sport see out the coronavirus crisis, Tost fears that the design of the all-new 2022 cars will test the financial capabilities of teams.

“I’m also very worried about next year. Although we can take over more or less this year’s car for 2021, because there is no regulation change, but in 2021, we have to design and fabricate a completely new car for 2022, and I still don’t know how we can manage this from the financial side,” he concluded.