Horner: AlphaTauri now a “sister team” rather than a junior team

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner has said that AlphaTauri is a “sister team” these days rather than a junior team.

Shortly after Red Bull joined the Formula 1 grid in 2005, they purchased Minardi and setup Toro Rosso, who went on to be re-branded as AlphaTauri.

The Italian team’s sole existence on the grid has been to train and educate junior drivers, so that they are capable of jumping up to the main Red Bull team when the time was right.

It has been notoriously known as the toughest junior driver programme in the industry, but the system has worked for the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz.

However, there have also been victims, including current AlphaTauri drivers Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly, with both drivers having struggled at Red Bull and subsequently demoted back to the junior team, while current Red Bull driver Alex Albon has come under pressure for his recent performances, having been promoted to the senior squad last season.

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But, having been demoted, Gasly as regained his impressive form, finishing second in last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix before securing his maiden F1 victory last time out at Monza, and his recent performances has raised questions about whether he and Albon would be swapped again.

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But, Horner has insisted that while he is happy that Gasly got his first F1 win at Monza, AlphaTauri is now more like a sister team rather than a junior team now it has secured another victory and, at this stage, there is no intention to change the driver lineup at Red Bull.

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Speaking in Friday’s FIA press conference, Horner said: “I think Pierre has done a fantastic job.

“I think taking a step back into what was Toro Rosso, now AlphaTauri he’s found his confidence, he’s driving incredibly well and AlphaTauri are doing a great job with him.

“I think it’s good to see, it’s really good to see that that’s working out for him and I think that as far as Red Bull Racing’s seats are concerned we are focused on Alex Albon.

“We want to try and give him the best opportunity to retain that seat.

“We’ve got some issues that we are working on with the car and I think that it wouldn’t make sense to switch the drivers back.

“AlphaTauri is now a sister team rather than a Junior team.

“I think that Franz is happy, I believe, with Pierre, so there’s no… the final decision will be made later in the year but there’s no push from our side to reverse the situation.”

Red Bull has always insisted that it will look for drivers within it’s driver programme to promote to the team, but with talented veteran drivers such as Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez having recently become available, questions have been asked whether the Milton Keynes-based team should look at alternative drivers.

But, when asked about this, Horner reiterated that the team will always look to promote from within, although if options are limited they would look at other options.

“I think our preference has always been to nurture talent and whether that’s Sebastian Vettel, whether that’s Daniel Ricciardo, whether that’s Max Verstappen, they’ve all come through the junior programme.” he added.

“They’ve been schooled by Franz and then they’ve obviously delivered very well in Red Bull Racing seats, so our preference is always in that home ground talent.

“But if the pool isn’t big enough, then of course occasionally you have to look outside of it but our intention is absolutely to work with the talent pool that we have.