Alpha Tauri Technical Director Jody Egginton says the work on the 2021 car has been a lot of fighting to recover aerodynamic losses due to the new regulations.
Alpha Tauri have revealed their new look AT02 for 2021, including a revised blue and white livery that shows off prominent Honda branding and white rims. It’s a carefully thought out look, as befitting a team that represents Red Bull’s burgeoning fashion brand.
However, while the cosmetics of the car are evident, the work to improve the car from last year’s quite successful AT01 is not quite so obvious. While the regulations remain largely the same as 2020 after the far-reaching technical changes have been pushed out until next season, aerodynamic rules have been altered for 2021 in order to slow the cars down a little.
This largely concentrates on the simplification of aerodynamic surfaces such as the front wing and bargeboard areas, and technical director Jody Egginton explained that a huge amount of work has been done to help the team claw back some of that lost aero effect.
“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.” explained Egginton. “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.”
“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.” Egginton continued. “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.”
“The use of Red Bull Technologies supplied gearbox, rear suspension and some front suspension components is now in its third year for us but for 2021 we have elected to continue with the same rear suspension & gearbox design as we used in 2020. We’ve elected to use our two tokens for a new nose and also redesigned the outboard front suspension, as a result of this we have elected to update some Red Bull Technologies supplied steering components to 2020 specification, as permitted by the Technical Regulations.”
With the AT01 becoming the team’s first race winner since the 2008 STR3 in their Toro Rosso days, Egginton explained that the 2020 car served as an excellent baseline to develop from for this year: “I really believe the AT01 was the best car to be produced by the team. The STR14 (2019 car) was not a bad car but the AT01 developed very well through the season and its performance was a credit to the hard work of everybody involved in the project. For 2021 major changes to the car require the use of ‘tokens’ and each team is limited to just 2 tokens, as such we have elected to carry over the Safety Cell. We believe the chassis and power unit provides a good baseline, so we are happy to have spent our tokens elsewhere for 2021.
Another rule introduced for 2021 has been the introduction of a ‘sliding scale’ for aerodynamic testing. The more successful a team in terms of championship placement, the fewer hours of CFD and wind tunnel time the team is granted. With Alpha Tauri finishing P7 in 2020, Egginton said that it forces teams to be more efficient with their efforts: “You are subject to this sliding scale of how many aero runs you can complete. Finishing seventh last year means we are at a notional zero point, so that anyone who finished behind us gets more time and those ahead of us get less. We support this system and believe it’s a sensible step in trying to bring the field closer together – it pushes teams to be as efficient as possible with each and every aero run which in turn is pushing us to find ways to extract as much information as we can from each run and develop our methodologies to try and extract even more going forwards.”