On the sidelines of the presentation of the new AT03, Marco Perrone, who has been appointed Head of Sports at AlphaTauri, spoke about the difficulty of adapting to the new sports rules for the 2022 Formula 1 season.
We knew you as an engineer in charge of strategy, so what motivated you to take on the challenge of becoming the head of sports management?
In short, because I love this team, that’s the main reason. She gave me so many opportunities. I came here right after graduating from university in 2008 as a mechanical engineer in the R&D department. It’s great to be able to help the team with these difficult tasks, it’s part of the game and gives us the opportunity to show how good we are in several areas, such as preparing for pit stops. In addition, the image of the team is partly determined by our training and our discipline. So I think it’s a very important role and that’s why I accepted it.
Will you still be involved in strategic decision making during the races?
On the pit wall, we always worked as a team and communicated with everyone present. So I think that I will still be involved in the development of strategies. Having experience in this area is very important in order to understand sports regulations, as well as to see how the situation develops and to transmit information to the garage.
So I think it’s an advantage to be in this position with such knowledge of strategy. Of course I have a lot to learn in terms of the garage, but I love the idea and it’s part of the game.
Did you already know all the sports rules because of your role in strategy, or did you read a big book at home?
Perfection is in the details. Many details that were not important in my previous role are now paramount, so I would say that my previous job gave me a good idea of the rules of the sport, but I still have a lot of things to think about.
Travel, logistics and race weekends will again be affected by pandemic protocols this year. Are you going to expand your understanding of how you work with others?
The situation is difficult, it’s true. We had to adapt, and we still do, and we will have to do it again in two months, because scenarios related to COVID are changing very quickly. This adds complexity, but at the same time opens our eyes to things we hadn’t thought about before. So we have learned something positive from this situation and I think we have learned important lessons for the future.
We are about to start the longest F1 season in terms of the number of races, but they will be cut to a shorter period than last year, with the idea that Thursday will no longer officially be part of the weekend. How will this affect teams?
I think we need time to clearly understand the new sports and technical rules and adapt our way of working accordingly. I think we’ll start the season doing the same as last year and then we’ll see where we are.
Thus, the teams will arrive at the track at the same time as last year, but we need to determine how long we can be on the track. The sporting directors of each team are still discussing the details of the format, but a new set of sporting rules is expected to be released soon, detailing all of these changes.
As head of sports, one of your tasks is to control the pit stop, which lasts only a few seconds, but requires many hours of practice, and the new rules will affect this. How did you prepare for this?
The wheels changed from 13 to 18 inches in diameter, so their coverage also changed and we had to explore a new scenario. For example, the wheels are heavier, with the front two kilograms heavier and the rear four. Therefore, the team and I made adjustments to our stops. It’s a challenge, but the guys are motivated. They work very hard in the gym with a special program for pit stops.
Will you have a different relationship with pilots in your new role? You will have to treat them as individuals and not as a strategic element.
I already had very human relationships with riders, including in my previous role, because each rider requires a different approach in terms of strategy, as they have different personalities and different driving styles. On paper, the pilot is not part of the strategic equation, but in reality it is. So we have always had a good relationship, even if my new role will have other tasks and topics to discuss with them.