Franz Tost, the AlphaTauri team principal, claims he doesn’t trust his engineers anymore because their promise of substantial development is yet to materialise.
AlphaTauri were perhaps the biggest strugglers with F1’s new aerodynamic rules last season, finishing ninth in the constructors’ championship after managing sixth the year before.
Red Bull have been forced to deny reports that they were looking to sell their sister team, after an underwhelming year.
“The engineers tell me we made some good progress but I don’t trust them anymore,” Tost said at the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“I just want to see the lap time because this is the only thing that counts.
“During the winter months they told me: ‘The car is fantastic, we made big progress!’
“Then we came to Bahrain and we are nowhere. What should I say?”
AlphaTauri were ninth-fastest in qualifying in Bahrain but would have been slowest had McLaren’s Lando Norris not suffered problems.
Tost was grilled about his comments about his own engineers but bit back: “I don’t care about that, I just want to see a fast car whether tough or not. I simply don’t care.”
Tost explained the problems with the AT04: “There’s not enough downforce. Therefore the car is unstable under braking and overheats the rear tyres.
“Washing out at the apex, then traction. Everything that you need to do a good lap time.
“Here in Jeddah the characteristic of the race track is completely different and both drivers are not satisfied with the car but satisfied that the car feels better than in Bahrain.
“Still have some understeer problems that we have to get rid of and the rest we will see.”
Tost promised minor upgrades at each of the next few races but warned: “The question is now, do we go in the right direction?
“As I mentioned before, during the winter months we saw that, at least on the paper and on the computer, we made big progress in comparison to last year’s car.
“But all these figures nowadays, as I mentioned before, I don’t trust them now.
“I want to see now with the next steps that we go in the right direction, that we can improve the performance of the car, that we are able to do this and this is a specialism work on the floor, brake ducts, and all the other aerodynamic parts.
“I think now with all the knowledge we have after Bahrain test and after the Bahrain race, the engineers should be in a position to sort it out and come up with new parts which improve the performance of the car.”
Keyword: AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost at F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: “I don’t trust my engineers anymore”