Franz Tost revealed that it was his decision to retire and leave AlphaTauri, and that his step was two years in the making, even discussed with the late Dietrich Mateschitz.
Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix back in May, it was announced that Franz Tost would be leaving his role as Team Principal of AlphaTauri at the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season, a job he has held since 2005, when Red Bull took over the Minardi F1 team and renamed it Toro Rosso.
The team acted as a stepping stone for drivers in the Red Bull junior drivers’ program managed by Dr. Helmut Marko, where they were properly developed before being deemed suitable to race for Red Bull Racing. The system delivered two World Champions, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, in addition to several established drivers.
As part of the restructuring within the team, the job Tost used to hold on his own will now be shared by former FIA head of single seater commission Peter Bayer as CEO, and outgoing Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies as Team Principal.
The decision was taken two years ago
Following the death of Dietrich Mateschitz in 2022, the new management at Red Bull were keeping a close eye on the state of affairs at AlphaTauri, with reports claiming they were not happy with the team’s performance, but Tost insists he wasn’t ousted, he decided to walk.
Reflecting on his decision to move on, Tost said, quoted by Motorsport.com: “It was my decision. It started already two years ago, I discussed it also with Dietrich Mateschitz in those days. Because I’m now 67 years old.
“And when I was younger, I always said to myself if you’re in a leading position, then you should not glue on the seat, you should give this position to younger people, more clever people, creative people, motivated people.
“And now I’m going to the 70s, and it’s time to say goodbye. I love F1. But it’s a story which once has to end. And especially now with the solution with Peter Bayer as CEO and with Laurent Mekies we have two fantastic people who will replace me. And I think it’s the best time to go out from F1,” he explained.
“I can tell you now, I’m not the guy to look behind the shoulders or what Peter and Laurent will do,” Tost added. “They are really very good. And they know what to do. I will be there at the beginning, when they are coming, one month or so. But then 100%, I will step back. I’m not a person to advise someone and to tell someone what to do. They know it.
“It’s also important, and this is also a personal desire, a wish from my side, the team has to step up, to come to another level. And I am there now for 18 years. And this was always my intention to bring in new people, new ideas.
“F1 is developing very fast, they have maybe different points of view, and they should do it. And I am convinced they can do it much better than myself. Therefore it’s better if I shut my mouth,” the Austrian insisted.
Dual leadership at AlphaTauri
AlphaTauri will now emulate the management structure being adopted by other teams, Red Bull being one the first to employ it with Christian Horner as Team Principal working in tandem with Helmut Marko. Mercedes had it with Toto Wolff and the late Niki Lauda, while McLaren’s Zak Brown and Andrea Stella also operate in a similar manner.
“I think it’s a good constellation,” Tost said of the new structure, “because then you have one person being concentrated on the technical side, and you have a second person who is more on the organisation, marketing and strategy for the future. All this kind of stuff.
“It’s really a lot of work for a team principal if you take everything together, and therefore this constellation I think is a good possibility for the future.
“F1, now with 24 races, it’s a lot of work to do. And they’re much cleverer than me, because I work 24 hours, and they will divide it 12 hours each!
“Seriously, it’s better if there’s a CEO and the team principal, because you have to make the structure for the future. And racing itself is such an intensive job, that it’s better it’s being split by two people,” Tost concluded.