AlphaTauri pins hopes on new car and improved Honda engine

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AlphaTauri and Honda have confirmed that significant changes have been made both to the aerodynamics of the AT02 and the Honda power unit that will power the team’s 2021 F1 car.

The Faenza-based outfit became the second team after McLaren to unveil its 2021 car. The AT02 is the evolution of its predecessor, the AT01 which is the clear consequence of technical restrictions that were put in place to contain the development costs amidst the coronavirus-induced financial difficulties.

The car will be once again powered by Honda's power units which will be the third year of the cooperation between the two companies. The AT02 will be piloted by Pierre Gasly, who took an opportunistic win at last year's Italian Grand Prix and F1 debutant Japansese driver Yuki Tsunoda.

AlphaTauri’s Technical Director, Jody Egginton revealed that the team has made a huge number of changes to the AT02 despite the carry-over from 2020.

“With the changes to the aero regulations targeting a reduction in downforce, we have been presented with a number of changes we have got to make to the floor, the diffuser and rear brake ducts and this has required a lot of work to re-optimise around these changes.

„The work which has been undertaken to develop our car for 2021 goes far beyond compliance with regulation changes and has involved changes to nearly all aero surfaces and also development and repackaging large parts of the car, which are hidden, in order to achieve these changes,” he added. „We have spent a lot of time working to recover the aero losses as a result of the regulation changes, while also focusing on increasing and improving the cars aerodynamic operating window.

„This activity will continue into the season, with the split of resource between the 2021 and 2022 projects reviewed and adjusted as required to maximise the potential of both projects, Egginton concluded.

Honda’s F1 Technical Director, Toyoharu Tanabe said that the Japanese manufacturer has made extensive modifications to its power unit despite the company’s departure at the end of this year.

"On the dyno the numbers we have seen match what we expected. Let's see how competitive we can be on track in the actual races. It is difficult to be specific about which parts have seen the most work, but in order to improve power and reliability, we have made modifications to the ICE, turbine and ERS," he said.

"This is our third year with Scuderia AlphaTauri and in order to improve as a whole, we have also improved the installation and packaging of the entire PU. However, given all the difficulties and restrictions because of the long F1 shutdown, combined with the European lockdown and delay in parts supply, we had decided to postpone it to 2022.

“However, taking into account the decision announced in October 2020, that Honda would leave the sport at the end of 2021, we reassessed the situation and changed our plan again to reintroduce it in 2021.

“It was very tight timing to make this change, but we managed to bring forward the development and preparation programme. At Honda, we felt that we really wanted to use all our technical know-how before leaving the sport.”

Honda is set to leave Formula One at the end of 2021 as engine supplier, but Red Bull will take over the Japanese manufacturer’s IP. The agreement between the two companies will see Red Bull and AlphaTauri continue to use the Honda power units until the end 2024.

"I think it is the right thing for Honda to do, considering our relationship with Scuderia AlphaTauri and Red Bull Racing, and how much Honda has benefited from those partnerships.”

"It also reflects the importance of our role and history, as part of the world of Formula 1 over several decades. So, I am glad that Honda has been able to help the two teams and the sport in this way,” Tanabe said.