The Anglo-Italian squad grabbed attention with its raft of steady floor upgrades in recent months, that according to McLaren team boss Andrea Stella had made the AT04 the best car in low-speed corners by the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
It allowed the team to have a late go at Williams for seventh in the constructors’ championship, but from sixth on the grid a one-stop gamble for Yuki Tsunoda didn’t pay off as he dropped to eighth, which left AlphaTauri three points adrift.
While its aggressive approach to introducing upgrades has given the team a performance boost towards the latter third of the season, it has also exaggerated its straight-line weakness.
“Some of the focus has been on the slow-speed corners. It was a bit of a weakness,” said the team’s head of trackside engineering Jonathan Eddolls.
“I would say the area we still need to address for next year is the aerodynamic efficiency. Because yes, we are quite competitive in the slow-speed corners. But we’ve got the downside, we’re one of the slowest cars on the straights.
“We make the time in the corners, but then we’re losing on the straights. I think we need to reintegrate, redress the balance of load in the corners and aerodynamic efficiency. But that’s being worked on for next year.”
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04
When put to him that AlphaTauri’s massive floor gains piqued interest from rival teams up and down the paddock, Eddolls said it was an area in which the team had missed its targets, so there was much more time to be gained once it had found the right development direction.
“We started the season a long way off, on the back foot, so there was plenty to find,” he said.
“But I think it’s fair to say that the factory, Bicester, aerodynamics and Faenza have done a really good job at identifying the weaknesses of that car and then working hard to try to address those.
“Part of the problem is understanding the weaknesses and then I think they did a very good job of figuring that out. We’ve been updating the car all year, but to get points, obviously, you’ve got so many cars in front, it’s taken quite a while to get to this stage.
“Firstly, you change the targets, then you have to develop around those targets, then you find parts, then you’ve got to make the parts, then you bring them to the track. So it’s only from Singapore, since the second part of the season that really we’ve been seeing the fruits from that.”