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Analysis | Why the sale of AlphaTauri is the best option for Red Bull

Analysis | Why the sale of AlphaTauri is the best option for Red Bull

26 February - 16:06


Helmut Marko may be approaching the respectable age of 80, but he is still as ambitious as he was in his younger years. A ninth-place finish in AlphaTauri's constructors' championship last year was undoubtedly not acceptable to the Austrian. Moreover, the Italian team's main goal since 2016 has not succeeded in getting a talent to settle permanently in its parent team Red Bull Racing. Would it therefore be a coincidence that after such a disastrous season, there are rumours of possible sale of the Italy-based team?

According to stories in first of all German media, there are two options for AlphaTauri: sell or move the entire team to England, near Red Bull's factory. The second option seems unrealistic beforehand. AlphaTauri is an Italian team, with around ninety per cent of the staff bearing Italian nationality. How many of them would want to trade their entire social lives for a new existence in cold and grey England? Besides, it costs a fortune to set up an AlphaTauri factory in England from virtually zero.

Purpose overshot

Indeed, Red Bull once bought the ailing Minardi with the idea of maturing talent there, guys who should eventually become a fixture in the organisation's flagship team. It became a formula for success: Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, and Max Verstappen - to name a few - managed to advance to the absolute top thanks in part to then Toro Rosso. Since the Dutchman made the switch to Red Bull in 2016, the flow has stagnated. What the now-renamed AlphaTauri team was set up for at the time has long since failed.

With that, AlpaTauri's right to exist as a training team has slowly disappeared. Let's be honest about this season's drivers: there are still doubts about Yuki Tsunoda and there is no chance he will ever make the switch to Red Bull. Fellow 28-year-old Nyck de Vries is a decent driver, but originally AlphaTauri was not created to accommodate men like De Vries.

Do the costs outweigh the results?

Of course, with Dennis Hauger and Isack Hadjar there are talents knocking on the door from Formula 2. They may eventually be able to make a name for themselves in Formula 1's king class with AlphaTauri. There is one 'problem' though: possibly moving on to Red Bull will be difficult, as one spot there is taken by Max Verstappen in the next few years anyway. It would be wise for Marko and consorts to ask themselves whether all the effort and ditto costs outweigh the prospect of possibly fetching one talent from AlphaTauri somewhere over the next six seasons?

As often discussed, Formula 1 has boomed globally, increasing the value of teams enormously. It is not inconceivable for a buyer to have to put down half a billion dollars - or of that size - to take over a team like AlphaTauri. In fact, the top teams are worth much more. It is possible that the value of F1 teams- and hence AlphaTauri - will continue to grow in the coming years. But it is not a certainty. Selling now means bringing in a nice sum guaranteed.

Andretti is watching

No doubt there is someone living in the United States who is closely following the discussion surrounding the possible sale of AlphaTauri. Michael Andretti very much wants his own team in Formula 1. Earlier this Sunday, Andretti-Cadillac reported to GPblog that the 'Expression of Interest' has been submitted to the FIA. However, in order to join, an entry fee of six hundred million dollars must be paid, it also came out. That is significantly more than the two hundred million dollars previously talked about.

It would probably be cheaper to buy AlphaTauri. In that case, the resistance to Andretti among other teams will also decrease, as in that case, the prize money would still have to be divided among ten participants. Incidentally, HitechGP and the new Indian team are also said to be interested in AlphaTauri.

Best choice

Helmut Marko is a winner, but also a shrewd businessman. Admittedly, he was already hiding behind shareholders when asked about the future of AlphaTauri. Everyone knows: Marko has an important voice in this. No doubt, he too will meticulously compare all scenarios. If the Austrian is realistic, selling AlphaTauri is a very good, probably the best choice at the moment. For AlphaTauri, Red Bull, and possibly also Andretti-Cadillac.