On the sidelines of the presentation of the new AT03, Marco Perrone, appointed sports director at AlphaTauri, talked about the complexity of adapting to new sporting regulations for the 2022 Formula 1 season.
We knew you as an engineer in charge of strategy, but what motivated you to take up your position as head of sports management?
Long story short, because I love this team, that’s the main reason. It gave me so many possibilities. I started here in 2008 as a mechanical engineer in research and development just outside the university. Being able to help the team with these complex missions is great, it’s part of the game and gives us the opportunity to show how good we are in various areas such as preparing for pit stops. Also, the image of the team is partly determined by our preparation and discipline. That’s why I think it’s a very important role and that’s why I’ve agreed to do it.
Will you continue to participate in strategic decisions during races?
We’ve always worked as a team on the pit wall and shared the conversations with everyone there. That’s why I think I’ll still be involved in strategies. Having experience in this field is as important as understanding the sporting regulations, as well as being able to see how the situation is developing and being able to communicate the information to the garage.
So I think it is an advantage to occupy this position with this knowledge of strategy. Of course I have to learn a lot in terms of garage but this idea puts me at ease and that’s part of the game.
Did you already know all the sports rules because of your role in strategy or did you read the big book from home?
Perfection is in the details. Many details that were not important in my previous role are now very important, so I can say that my previous job gave me a good introduction to sports regulations, but I still have a lot to think about. simple.
Travel, logistics and race weekends will again be affected by pandemic protocols this year. Will you have to expand your thinking about how you work with others?
The situation is complex, true. We had to adapt, in fact we still do at the moment, and we’re going to have to do it again in two months as the COVID-related scenarios are changing so fast. It adds difficulty, but it also opens our eyes to things we hadn’t thought of before. So we learned something positive from this situation and I think we learned important lessons for the future.
We are about to start the longest Formula 1 season in terms of race numbers, but these will be squeezed into a shorter period than last year as Thursday will not officially be part of the weekend. How will this affect teams?
I think we need some time to clearly understand the new sporting and technical rules and adapt our way of working accordingly. I think we will start the season like last year and then we will see where we are.
So the teams will arrive at the track at the same time as last year, but we need to determine how long we can stay on the track. The sporting directors of each team are still discussing the details of the format, but a new set of sporting rules detailing all these changes is expected to be announced soon.
One of your duties as sporting director is to oversee pit stops that only take a few seconds but require hours of practice, and the new regulations will have an impact. How did you prepare for this?
The diameter of the wheels increased from 13 inches to 18 inches, so their scope also changed and we had to work on a new scenario. For example, the wheels are heavier, the front wheels weigh two kilos and the rear wheels four kilos. That’s why we made adjustments to our stops with the team. It’s a challenge, but the kids are motivated. They work hard in the gym with a special program for pit stops.
Will you have a different relationship with the pilots in your new role? You will no longer have to think of them as a strategic element, but as individuals.
I already had a very human relationship with drivers, including in my previous role because each driver requires a different approach in terms of strategy as they have different personalities and different driving styles. On paper, the pilot isn’t part of a strategic equation, but in reality it is. That’s why we’ve always enjoyed a good relationship, even if in my new role there are other tasks and topics to discuss with them.