Formula 1 News, Notes: Bitter AlphaTauri Team Boss Pulls No Punches
A key member of Lewis Hamilton’s team departs, an angry AlphaTauri boss vents, and where does Williams go in 2026?
Autoweek checks in from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix:
Tost Losing Faith in Engineers
After only one round of a grueling season it appears the best way to motivate the troops is to completely dismantle them in front of the paddock. Or at least that was Franz Tost’s management style at AlphaTauri.
The AT04 has not proved a rapid proposition in 2023, with back-to-back 11th-place finishes for Yuki Tsunoda the best results, leaving them ninth as one of two teams yet to score. But Tost was unimpressed already when he spoke on Friday.
“The engineers tell me that we make some good progress, but I don’t trust them anymore,” he said. “During the winter months they told me the car is fantastic, we’re making big progress, and then we come to Bahrain, and we are nowhere. What should I say?”
When asked specifically on the AT04’s issues Tost was characteristically blunt.
“Too little downforce,” he said. “Therefore the car is unstable under braking, overheats the rear tires, washes out at the apex, bad traction. Everything what you need to do a good lap time.”
Tost has never been one for the school of public relations but good luck retaining and enticing the best engineers if that’s your style.
Hamilton’s Physio Steps Aside
A key member of Lewis Hamilton’s close inner circle has left. New Zealand native Angela Cullen joined the Hintsa Performance group in 2015 and a year later became Hamilton’s physiotherapist and close confidant, with the pair developing a close relationship. Cullen has now opted to move on to new pastures and the seven-time champion paid a glowing tribute.
“For the last seven years Angela has been by my side, pushing me to be the best version of myself,” Hamilton said. “I am a stronger athlete and a better person because of her. So today I hope you’ll join me in wishing her the very best as she takes the next steps to pursue her dreams – thank you for everything Ang.
Hamilton won four world titles (2017-20) during Cullen’s spell as his close confidant.
“You GOAT,” Cullen posted. “I am so excited to watch the next chapter for you. There’s nothing you can’t do.”
Ex-F1 Racer Joins Mercedes
Ex-Formula 1 racer Jerome d’Ambrosio has joined Mercedes in a driver development role. D’Ambrosio contested the 2011 season with backmarker squad Marussia—which has long since collapsed—and made one outing in 2012 with Lotus.
D’Ambrosio subsequently switched to Formula E, winning three races across a six-season stint, before retiring in 2020.
He remained in the electric single-seater series after taking on a deputy team boss role at Venturi, becoming its outright team boss for one season, before departing when it transitioned to Maserati for the 2023 campaign. D’Ambrosio is expected to help mentor the drivers in Mercedes’ junior academy. It was a promising start, with Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti claiming his first Formula 2 Feature Race victory on Sunday afternoon.
Williams Rules Out Honda 2026 Tie-in
Williams has effectively ruled itself out of the running to have any affiliation with Honda in 2026. The Japanese firm has applied for the new-for-2026 engine rules but is without a client, following the development that Red Bull Powertrains will align itself with Ford.
Williams has a long-standing relationship with Mercedes, stretching back to 2014, and was mooted as a possible option for Honda. But cold water has been poured on that notion.
“I’m not sure what they have facility-wise,” said Williams boss James Vowles on Honda. “But I think they’re a little bit further away from it than they would need to be for it to be a serious contender for that year.”
Vowles stopped short of suggesting that Williams will remain with Mercedes—outlining that options are being assessed—but a decision is expected before the end of 2023.
Vowles’ comments came during a media breakfast, attended by Autoweek, at which he eloquently conveyed the long-term vision being installed at Williams amid a better-than-expected start to 2023.
Williams has recruited Frederic Brousseau as its new chief operating officer, who arrives after spending several decades in the aerospace industry. High on the agenda for Vowles is appointing a technical director and technical leadership structure than can be in place at Williams for several years to come.
Bottas to Test Supercar in Adelaide
Valtteri Bottas spends a swathe of his spare time in Australia, where partner professional cyclist Tiffany Cromwell hails from, and he will head out to the next round earlier than most.
Bottas will get behind the wheel of the 2016 Bathurst 1000-winning Holden VF Commodore V8 Supercar at the 2023 Adelaide Motorsport Festival on Sunday, and will also drive an Alfa Romeo GTV Group A touring car as part of a heritage run. Bottas’ affinity also extends to Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix, an event he won in 2019.