Franz Tost has been leading the Faenza-based AlphaTauri team for 18 years, but the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be his last in charge before retirement. In that time he's run 17 different drivers at Red Bull's sister team – including world champions Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.

    Before he hangs up his headset though, Tost sat down with Beyond The Grid podcast host Tom Clarkson, and you can read every word from his interview in the transcript below, listen to the episode in the audio player, or head here to catch it on your preferred platform.

    Tom Clarkson: Franz, you're stepping down after 18 years as a Team Principal in Formula 1. How are you approaching the end of an era?

    Franz Tost: These 18 years were quite interesting. I think it was one of the most important and interesting times in my life. Two years ago, I said to Dietrich Mateschitz and Dr Helmut Marko, that I will not be any more at the pitwall at 70. They said to me, ‘ah you have to continue a couple of years.’ I said ‘no, no – we will find some person who will take over’. When I was younger, I always said to myself, ‘if I should be in a responsible position, I will not glue on the seat.’ Now I am in the responsible position and I do not want to glue on the seat.

    Therefore, I said to myself a couple of years ago, in two or three years, I want to stop. Next year, in January, I am 68 years old and I think this is the correct time to hand over the team to younger people, to very well-experienced people. They will bring the team to another level. This is exactly what I wanted because I want the team to come forward and therefore I am really positive about this.

    TC: But Franz, even if it's been a couple of years in the making, this decision, it must be an emotional moment for you?

    FT: Not at the moment so far, because I'm prepared for this. I don't know how it will be in Abu Dhabi or how it will be when the season is done at the end of the year. But of course, I have been now 18 years in Faenza. It's a fantastic city. I like Italy, but what is more important, are the people over there. They are very clever. They are very motivated. They have motorsport passion and this is something which I like very much.

    The Italian people like especially Formula 1, Moto GP and other categories of motorsport, and they have put in a lot of effort in the last years to build up the team. I will miss these people because we have worked so long together, we have also worked successfully together. We had ups and downs. This, of course, will be emotional not to work anymore together with this group of people.

    TC: You talk about the ups and the downs. What kind of a boss have you been to the people in Faenza?

    FT: My leading style is totally easy. I sit together with the people, we discuss a topic, we make a decision, but then we must go through this. What I do not like is to decide something and then afterwards to change it, to go another direction. You must do it. I must say that, at the beginning, we had sometimes small troubles, but people then got used to me and we then had fantastic cooperation.

    TC: So, when, like in Saudi Arabia early in 2023, you said things like, ‘I no longer trust my engineers,’ what sort of reaction did that instil in the people back home?

    FT: The engineers whom I meant; they understood it. I must tell you the background story. Our car last year was not competitive. Then I said we have to do something, because I cannot accept that we are rolling around in the back of the field, I want to be at least in the front part of the midfield. ‘Yeah, yeah. We are working very hard and we have solutions. We know exactly what we have to do.’ I visited them at the aero department. They told me figures and they said ‘the car will be fantastic. Really good performance, very good figures in CFT, as well as in the wind tunnel, and blah blah blah.’

    Then we came to Bahrain and I did not need to wait for the race. I knew already after the test that we are nowhere. Then I got upset and I said to them, ‘what's going on?’ ‘Oh, you know, there's coming an upgrade.’ I said, ‘I don't care about an upgrade. This car must perform well.’ Then, in your press conference, I was asked about this and I said, ‘I don't trust them anymore.’ If I don't trust anymore the people, then they are out. This was the case. We changed them and brought in some new people, so we have now hopefully a good team in the aero department. I must say, all the upgrades they brought this year so far worked acceptably.

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    TC: Let's wind the clock back to the beginning now, to when you got the call to run Toro Rosso from Dietrich Mateschitz. How much of a surprise was it to get that telephone call?

    FT: It was not so much a surprise for me because Dietrich wanted me one year earlier to go to England, but I had a contract with BMW and I said to him, ‘look, Dietrich, I go to Milton Keynes no problem, but I will not break a contract. If Mario Theissen lets me go, no problem.’ Then he called Theissen and Theissen said ‘no way, Franz stays with us.’ Then I said to Dietrich, ‘sorry Dietrich, I can't go there because I don't break a contract.’ This is one of my life philosophies. I stayed with BMW and my contract in those days said that I can leave the team if I stayed until the end of October. This was the option from BMW.

    Then he called me the year after and said ‘you go now to Italy.’ And this was then the case. I was really looking forward to becoming the Team Principal of Scuderia Toro Rosso and went there, I think it was on the 8th of November, 2005, and I remember back at BMW, the engineers, they couldn't understand that I go to the Minardi team. I think it was in Suzuka, there was a pit stop and the Minardi car caught fire and they just turned around to me and said ‘good luck over there.’ I was just smiling to myself.

    I was looking forward to going there and it started in a normal way. At the beginning, I was a little bit shocked because I expected more. There were just two older buildings and that was it. There was hardly a machine shop or anything that you need to be successful in Formula 1. But Mateschitz said quite clearly to me, the philosophy of the team is, first of all, to use the synergies with Red Bull technology, and then to educate young drivers from the Red Bull young driver pool.

    The reason why Mateschitz bought this team was coming from Bernie Ecclestone and from Max Mosley, because they said, ‘Deitrich, please buy the team, because we need some cars at the starting grid.’ Mateschitz said, ‘of course, I buy the team, but I don't want to build up the infrastructure in Milton Keynes and in Faenza so that they compete against each other. They must use the cars from Red Bull Racing.’

    This is how we started in 2006. We used the cars which Red Bull Racing was running in 2005. I remember this was not so easy at the beginning, because it was the ten cylinder, and the other teams all had the V8. Then we had to put in the air restrictor and comments from all the others said that they will win races because with the V10, it’s much easier. They have a much better torque, blah blah blah – politics as usual in Formula 1. But the air restriction was quite tough, and we competed on the level where we were expected to be.

    Manama, BAHRAIN:  US Toro Rosso driver Scott Speed steers his car during the second free practice
    Toro Rosso needed special dispensation to run with a V10 engine in their first season in 2006

    TC: How daunting was it for you to become a Team Principal?

    FT: No, it was fantastic. It was my dream to lead a Formula 1 team. It was a big step up. When I was at BMW, I was responsible for the complete operational side between BMW and Williams in those days. But to take over a team, to become Team Principal is, of course, a big to-do list, which you have to accept. I like working. I was not frightened to go there and to do this. I was looking forward, I was optimistic, and it was a hell of a fun to do.

    TC: Tell us a little bit more about Dietrich Mateschitz. It's just been the anniversary of his passing. What sort of a man was he? What sort of an inspiration was he for you?

    FT: He was one of the most exciting people I've ever met because, if you talk to him, he was levels ahead of the way of thinking and his visions, and he explained everything so logical. There are many people out there who have visions, but he realised them and he realised them as a success. He said to me, ‘Franz, you go now to Faenza, you build up the team and then you have to educate the drivers, then they come to Red Bull Racing, they will win races and championships.’

    I was sitting there thinking to myself, ‘I know what I have to do here.’ But in the end it worked. He was so far ahead in his way of thinking that, at the end, everything worked how he thought it will be. I never had a meeting with Mateschitz where I left the room without exactly knowing what to do. There was no discussion, nothing. ‘This has to be done, and faster.’ That was it. He was a fantastic person. You will never meet anymore in the world; Dietrich was a unique person.

    TC: How did you meet him?

    FT: How we met each other, it was not planned. It was 1993. I was introduced to him at the Nürburgring because I wanted to work in Formula 1 at Sauber. He was a sponsor at Sauber. There, I met him the first time and then we always had some contact. We had an interview, but it didn't come together. But with Mateschitz, he met us nearly every year when he came to a Grand Prix, or he called me and wanted to know what's going on. We had always contact.

    TC: Now, how ambitious were you for the team? Were you happy to play second fiddle to Red Bull Racing, or were you always a little bit more ambitious than that?

    FT: My first primary motivation was to build up the team, and it was never the ambition to beat Red Bull Racing or to be on the same level, because Mateschitz made this clear. There is Red Bull Racing – they have to win races, they have to win championships, and we are a so-called second team.

    We are to use synergies from Red Bull Racing, educate young drivers and that's it. Also, when we wanted to do something in the infrastructure, he always asked, ‘does this make sense? Can’t you share this with Red Bull Racing or Red Bull technology?’ It was always clear that Red Bull Racing is on another level than us.

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    TC: You didn't read the script, did you? Because in 2008, you beat Red Bull Racing in the constructors’ championship by ten points. How did that go down?

    FT: Yeah, it was an Adrian Newey car. As you know, we always had another engine than Red Bull Racing. When Newey came to the team, he didn’t want to have a Ferrari engine. Dietrich called me and said, ‘you get now the Ferrari engine.’ This is very good news because Red Bull decided to go with the Renault engine. In Monza, we had a fantastic package together. First of all, the Ferrari engine in those days was for sure a little bit better than the Renault engine. Second, Adrian’s car was working, as always, fantastic. And Sebastian Vettel did a really good job in combination with the team and with the setup.

    This victory, I would say, started already on Friday because it was wet on Friday. Many other teams didn't go out. I remember, Gerhard Berger was sitting on the side and said ‘hey, why they don’t go out?’ We knew it could rain on Sunday and it could rain on Saturday in the qualifying as well. He said to me, ‘I don’t understand, maybe they want to save tyres or whatever.’

    Monza is a very special track. If it's wet, it’s very low downforce. You have to go out, you have to find out, where is the water standing, and in the forest behind, the water does not go away so fast and comes always back. Therefore, I said our drivers should go out. They should get as many laps as possible just to get used to this. I was also thinking that Sebastian was new, he was not so experienced like other drivers in those days.

    I think this was the basis for the pole position on Saturday. During the qualifying, I saw other cars going out with the intermediates. I just said to Gerhard, ‘they have no chance because there was too much water out there.’ Therefore, we got the pole position and in the race, everything went well. The team did a fantastic job with the pit stops, and Sebastian drove the race without any mistakes. Therefore, we won. But as you know, every medal has two sides. The one side was we won this race. The other side was that, as you know in Formula 1, all the teams said this is not the way Formula 1 can go in the future. ‘They have to do this job in the future by themselves. No synergies anymore.’

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    The FIA changed the regulations and came up with the listed parts, which meant we had to design the monocoque by ourselves, the nose, the front wing, the diffuser, the floor, the sidepods, the engine cover, the rear wing, the complete aerodynamics. We were there with two old buildings. This was a tough time. From 2009 onwards, we had to build up the infrastructure. We had to build up the aero department, a design department, a purchasing department, a production department, quality control. Assembling the race team, we had already, but this was a huge, huge challenge.

    TC: So that victory at Monza in 2008 was a double-edged sword. You had the euphoria of the moment, but that was the catalyst for the change in regulations?

    FT: Exactly, and we couldn't use the synergies as before.

    TC: Did Dietrich think about axing the team, because that was not his plan when he bought Minardi?

    FT: Not at this moment. Some time later, especially when we were struggling with the engines, with the new power units, for example, he was sometimes very frustrated and was not anymore coming to Formula 1 races. This was a tough period, but at the end he was such a Formula 1 enthusiast and fan, and he also saw that the business grew up, more and more cans were sold every year. They sold 20% more than the year before. This was because of Formula 1 for sure. Fortunately, Red Bull Racing came back to the victory street.

    MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 14:  Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrates
    Sebastian Vettel can't believe he's won at Monza in 2008 as he celebrates with Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz

    TC: Your second victory comes again at Monza, but this time in 2020. How did the emotion compare between those two wins?

    FT: Both events were very emotional. First of all, we are an Italian team and we won in Monza. This is something special for the Italian employees. The first victory with Sebastian was a complete surprise. The second victory with Pierre Gasly was in 2020. We came up with the new team name with Scuderia AlphaTauri. We were the ambassador of AlphaTauri, the fashion brand of Red Bull. This brought us a little bit on another level.

    We had a good car in this year. There were special circumstances, with the red flag, when Pierre could take over the lead. Then he drove a really good race. We had, if I remember right, a little bit more wing than Carlos Sainz, who was in the McLaren. He caught up, but between Lesmo 1, Lesmo 2, and also in the Ascari chicane, Pierre could always go a little bit away from Carlos, and therefore Carlos couldn't catch up.

    We also were lucky that Carlos, at the beginning, in the first four or five laps, was a little bit more behind. He had to overtake some cars, otherwise it would have become really tough. But it was a very emotional moment. The team celebrated it. It was a big success for the complete operation.

    TC: Now, if they’re the two biggest highlights of your Formula 1 career as a Team Principal. What other highlights are there that we can talk about now? I mean, what about the first points back at Indianapolis in 2006 with Vitantonio Liuzzi?

    FT: With Liuzzi, this was also quite important. In those days, you got only points until eighth position and it was also quite emotional. Every success is important for the team and especially if you score the first points with a new team. It's important for the morale, for the motivation of the complete team, for the employees, that they see it's going forward. We had to build up the new infrastructure from 2010 to 2016- 17. We scored points but we were not in the position to be really successful.

    2018 was then a very important year for us, because we signed the works contract with Honda, and this was also a big step, because I remember there was a showroom at Trafalgar Square in London. There were some McLaren people there and they said, ‘Franz, you are totally crazy to work together with Honda next year.’ I said, ‘let’s talk about this in five years.’ For me, it was clear that Honda will come back. For me and the team, it was a big step forward and we had a very, very good and close relationship with Honda. Then, in 2019, Red Bull was also put with the Honda engine, and the rest of the story we know.

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    TC: What is your natural position, do you feel, in Formula 1? You've always asked for the team to finish fifth in the constructors’ championship, yet I think it was sort of 2014 to 2017, you were consistently at the P7 mark. Do you think actually that's the level of the team as it is now?

    FT: It depends on the other teams and the level of performance from the other teams. In those days, I must say a fifth, sixth position should have been possible, but we couldn't achieve it because of various reasons. Nowadays, the teams are much closer together. The level of performance has reached a very high level. Look to the qualifying results, the difference between cars could be two to three hundredths of a second.

    The midfield, I've never seen a field so close together as is currently the case. It's good. This is the first result from the cost cap, and I just hope in a few years that the top teams lose a little bit of their advantage, and that the complete field will come closer together. Then we’ll have even better races than we have nowadays.

    A realistic result these days is seventh or eighth position. We cannot dream of a fifth position because there is Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Alpine, these are more or less works teams, and then you have to find a way to beat the others. Also, the other teams like Haas, Williams, Alfa, or Aston Martin, they do a really good job. And with the philosophy to educate young drivers, it's not so easy to achieve such a goal because the driver was always the performance differentiator. But, at this stage, he’s even more of a performance differentiator because, from the technical side, the cars are coming closer and closer together.

    TC: When it came to driver selection at Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri, can you talk us through the process? Because it wasn't as straightforward as other teams, was it? There was obviously the drivers you wanted, but also there was what Red Bull wanted as well, and were you always aligned?

    FT: No, we were not always aligned. The young drivers are being selected by Dr. Marko. They do Formula 4, Formula 3, Formula 2, I know all the names. I look at the races and then you get already a picture. Of course, there were sometimes discussions – Helmut wanted a driver, I wanted a driver.

    TC: Who won that battle?

    FT: Most often he, sometimes also me. But we always had a meeting with Mateschitz. Dietrich then was more often on the side of Helmut, and then he said, ‘take this driver, he will do it.’ I said to them, ‘he will not do it, I take him, but it’s for nothing.’ Unfortunately, sometimes this was the case, but this is how it is. Then Helmut was upset with me. There was one or two months when we didn't talk so much together. But then our relationship is like a curve, up and down. It's okay.

    TC: Now, 17 drivers have passed through Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri during your time in charge. Who's impressed you the most?

    FT: At the beginning, Sebastian. He really, really took everything serious and he was very disciplined. He took care for every small detail – not only from the driving side, but also from the nutrition side, from the training side. He called me many times and we discussed different topics. He lived really 360 days, Formula 1. This is what I expect.

    Then, of course, Max. Max, because of his unbelievable speed. When we brought him to Formula 1, I remember some of your colleagues came to me and said, ‘you are totally crazy. How can you take someone who doesn't even have a driving license?’ I said, ‘sorry, I don't want to discuss this with you now. Come in five years, then we can discuss it,’ because I got tired to defend our decision.

    This unbelievable natural speed, you could see sometimes in Formula 3. I remember this wet race at the Norisring. I thought Max was driving on a dry line, because he was two seconds faster than the rest. This reminded me of when Michael Schumacher won a Formula Ford race at the Salzburgring. Similar conditions, and he was also, every lap, two or three seconds faster than the rest. I want to see, what is a driver doing in our car? We had done the test in Italy. He got immediately clear with the car. He adapted immediately to the speed, the brakes, everything. This was the big advantage for Max. He does not have a problem with the speed. Other drivers need ten laps, 20 laps, 100 laps, until they adapt this speed, the brakes and everything. Max had it under control.

    We said, ‘okay, he should do the free practice in Suzuka.’ Then once more your colleagues came and said we are totally crazy, it’s one of the most difficult racetracks. He just went out and did his job without any problem. Then the second one was I think in Sao Paolo. I don't remember exactly the number of the corner, five or six, but he hit the oversteer. He lost it a little bit, but he caught the car without any problem. He was not surprised by the speed, he had it under control. That's decisive. This was really impressive, with so few number of laps, how he immediately got the speed.

    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26:  (L-R) Scuderia Toro Rosso Technical Director James
    Tost's driver line-up in 2015 was Max Verstappen alongside Carlos Sainz

    TC: But Franz, he was 17 when he made his debut in Formula 1 in Australia. Did you have any reservations about what you were doing?

    FT: No, it was clear. It doesn't matter. He was racing already ten years or 11 years, and that's decisive because nowadays the young drivers start karting from six, seven years. Then he had Jos, his father, on his side. Jos was a successful Formula 1 driver, and he taught him everything. If you taught him something, he understood immediately what you meant, and he immediately went out with the car and tried it, whether it worked or not. This was really, really impressive.

    TC: You lost Max to Red Bull Racing midway through 2016. He wins his first race for that team. Were even you surprised?

    FT: He was fighting against [Kimi] Räikkönen, and he knew exactly how to use the battery, the energy. This was the typical sign for a driver who has everything under control, who is not overloaded by driving. He can think to other things. He can read the race, he knows what the opponents are doing, and he knew where Räikkönen can become dangerous for him. He drove exactly the way to defend and to win this race. Of course, I was surprised. It's a fantastic success, we all were happy with him.

    TC: What about Carlos Sainz?

    FT: Carlos Sainz is also a skilled driver. From the natural speed, he is not on the level of Max, but Carlos is a very hard worker. Carlos is a very clever driver. With his effort, he reached a very high level, and he belongs, for me, currently with the best drivers in Formula 1. You could see this in those days, he is not a driver who sits in and is immediately fast. He needs some laps, but he analyses everything, he works on his deficiencies, and therefore he has reached this level nowadays.

    TC: Carlos and Max were rookies together in 2015. They were both hungry for success. Was there any tension in the garage?

    FT: Yeah, of course. But this is good. I like the tension. I don't like if the drivers are too close to each other, too friendly to each other, because this is not a good sign. There was friction and then the fathers, it was interesting to observe for me. Max was really a rookie because he did just Formula 3. Carlos did Formula BMW, Formula Renault two litres, then the Formula Renault World Championship with the 3.5 litre. From this point of view, he was much, much better prepared. They fought against each other and there you could see the absolutely natural speed from Max.

    TC: Was Sainz ever in the running to replace Kvyat at Red Bull Racing? Or was it always going to be Max who took the step up mid-2016?

    FT: No, after the season with us, this was Max. Max was simply faster and that decision from Red Bull Racing was absolutely right.

    TC: What about Daniel Ricciardo? You've had two periods with him, both as a young driver and of course, again, ten years later, in 2023. What are his greatest qualities?

    FT: Daniel is also a skilled driver. His great qualities are more on the technical side. I remember he was driving in those days against Jean Eric-Vergne. Daniel made the steps forward because he was also working very hard on the technical side and how to set up the car. Daniel has a very good feeling for the car. He gives you really good feedback on what the car is doing. Therefore, he won eight races. In those days, sometimes he was quite close with Max.

    TC: How's Daniel changed in the decade out from the team?

    FT: From the person, of course he’s much more mature now. He is still very fast. I think he needs to trust the team and the car. Up to now, he did only a few races with us. Unfortunately, he was injured in Zandvoort with this heavy accident.

    He needs two or three races to get once more into the speed because the level in Formula 1 from the driving side is quite high. You don’t come in and just beat all the others. You have to build it up step by step. I hope that our car is competitive enough. If we provide him with a good car, he will be there, and I would be happy if he would come into Q3.

    TC: You've said that Daniel is fast, you've said he's very technical, but were you surprised that when he went to Red Bull Racing in 2014, he, I think we can say, blew Vettel away?

    FT: Yeah, he blew Vettel away because this was the first year, if I remember right, with the new power unit. From the driving style and also from the brake power system, this was not so developed in those days. I think Sebastian suffered a little bit more with the rear until he got this under control.

    It took a little bit because there were also many power unit failures. They couldn't do as many tests as they should have done to build up the trust in the car. Daniel, in those days, he was younger and he got it together faster. He showed a really good performance.

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    TC: Let's talk now about Pierre Gasly. Of the race winners that have driven for you, how does he stack up?

    FT: Yeah, he also developed himself really good, I must say. Unfortunately, they took him away after the first year from us. Too soon. I said immediately it would not work. He was not mature enough to go there. We are a team to educate young drivers. You can't just say, ‘yeah he drove a year with Toro Rosso. He must come now to us to be successful against Max, and to score points, to finish second, or whatever.’ On the computer, maybe it sounds good and looks good. It does not work in practice.

    If a young driver comes to us, he has to run through different periods. The first one is, he's a passenger in the car. Drivers hate to hear this because they think they have it under control. They have nothing under control. Now, you will ask, ‘but how can they drive then?’ They can drive because they did 16 years of racing beforehand; karting, Formula 4, Formula 3, Formula 2. That means from the driving side that everything is okay, but they have no clue what's going on around them.

    This is period two – they get the understanding about the mechanical side. How does the car feel with stiffer or softer anti-roll bar or whatever? The third period is to understand the aerodynamic side – how does the car feel with less ride height, higher ride height, more front wing, less rear wing, and so on? The fourth period are the tyres. This is not an easy one. You have three different compounds – the hards, mediums and softs. Apart from qualifying with the soft, where you just push like hell, with the other tyres you have to do tyre management in the race.

    That means, for example, in Austin, with the medium tyres, you have to push in the fast corners to heat up the front tyres, because otherwise you have problems also with the rear. But you have to learn this, you have to experience this. Then, in qualifying, for example, there are different situations with more sunshine, less sunshine, sidewind, headwind, tailwind, you have to experience this.

    Then the last period is you control the environment. You can see what spectators do in the grandstands, or in Monaco, for example, when you go up to the casino, there's a big screen you can see where the other drivers are. You can read the race. You know this driver is out with these tyres. That means he will be struggling in I don't know how many laps. Then you build up a strategy.

    For example, the fantastic race win from Sainz in Singapore, when he controlled the speed so that Norris could stay in his DRS, because the others could then not overtake him. This is a high understanding and the more qualified, skilled and talented the driver is, the faster he goes through all these periods.

    TC: What is the typical learning period? How long does it normally take?

    FT: I always say a driver, until he is educated to go to Red Bull Racing, he needs three years. The first year is just flying away. The second year he gets more understanding on the technical side. The third year he gets a better overview of what's going on regarding the race and so on. At Red Bull Racing, you have to fight for victories and with our car or with our team, you’re inexperienced and you fight for midfield positions. That's a completely different story, from the pressure and everything.

    TC: Do you think the likes of Albon, Gasly, Kvyat, if they had longer at Toro Rosso to learn their trade, they could have gone on and had very successful careers at Red Bull Racing?

    FT: They made the decisions because a driver left. For example, Vettel, this was not expected. Kvyat came in there. There were also some situations where they had to bring in another driver and of course, because of the philosophy, first of all, they took a driver from us. They were in a situation where they had to do it, or other drivers which they wanted were not free, or they had a contract.

    But of course, if you see now, Albon is doing very well and Gasly came back to us, winning the race with us, and now he is with Alpine. Afterwards, it's always easier to criticise something, but when they made the decision in those days, this was also not planned from their side. It was because a driver left or something else happened.

    TC: Well, what about the here and now? Yuki Tsunoda, you know him well. What can he go on to achieve in this sport?

    FT: Yuki is, from the natural speed, really a top driver, I must say. But he has to become even more disciplined and must work a little bit harder. He takes it a little bit too easy in all the areas - the technical side, nutrition a little bit, physical training a little bit. He is getting better and better everywhere, but to become a top driver, he must put in more effort in everything.

    TC: What about Liam Lawson? You had him for five races. Does he deserve a race seat in Formula 1?

    FT: Liam Lawson deserves race seat in Formula 1. He was put into the car in Zandvoort under very difficult circumstances – wet conditions, dry conditions. He was out the first time with a Formula 1 car with full wet tyres. Then he had to change to the intermediates, and he managed everything without doing any mistakes. A very, very good job.

    I must also say that Liam got much more mature now. I think this year in Japan has helped him a lot. He did a fantastic race in Singapore, because Singapore is not an easy track, which means he takes the physical training also serious, and therefore he scored two points. He finished ninth and he deserves to be in Formula 1, 100 per cent.

    TC: So, of the 17 drivers that have driven for you, you can have only two in your team. Which ones would you pick?

    FT: Vettel and Max – because of their dedication to the sport and their speed. They know how to win races and they also bring all the factors with them, what you need to win races. This is, first of all, the talent. You must be highly skilled for driving such a car. Second, the passion. Both of them are very passionate.

    Look at Max, he is driving this e-car series and all this kind of stuff. Isn’t this fantastic? A three-time Formula 1 World Champion and at home he is racing against others on the computer. Then they are disciplined. They know exactly when and what they have to do. The discipline is a very, very important factor. And then to study the rivals, to find out where are the deficiencies and to work on this to beat them. These are the factors both of these drivers have, 100%.

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    TC: One word answer to each of these next two questions - who would win the qualifying head-to-head between Vettel and Verstappen?

    FT: Verstappen.

    TC: Who would win more races?

    FT: Could be Sebastian.

    TC: What a team!

    FT: Exactly, that's why I chose it!

    TC: So, Franz, you will have contested 351 races as Team Principal of, let’s say, ‘Team Faenza', after Abu Dhabi. How do you want people to remember you and your period with the team?

    FT: I have never thought about this, to be honest. I met so many people. Some of them will think, ‘fortunately, this idiot is away,’ maybe some of them will think, ‘he was good.’ I don’t know and to be honest, I even don’t care.

    TC: What does retirement hold for you?

    FT: I don't know, I will see how it is. There are different offers from people that want to work together with me. We will see what I do. I have no idea. Currently, I am not worried that I don't know what to do because I have really a big to-do list. Skiing and being in the mountains, climbing and all this kind of stuff. But also taking care for other businesses, which were built up in the past, but I never had time to do it. I am just smiling by myself and say, if I come in a totally old life crisis, I will do karting, I will do racing with a Porsche or something like this. I have it already in mind. Boring? For sure not.

    TC: What will you miss about this team?

    FT: The people, of course, because they are so fantastic people in this team. I worked together with them so many years, and there's a trust on each side. I will miss them.

    TC: And what will you miss about Formula 1?

    FT: The atmosphere of a race weekend. I will watch all of the Formula 1 races, of course, this is clear. But to be at the racetrack, the pressure to have a good race, to think about the strategy, to think about what to tell the drivers, to study the results of FP1, FP2, FP3. I take all these lists with me and then maybe in the evening, before I sleep, I go once more through this – who is faster and why? All this kind of stuff, I will for sure miss this because I like this.

    TC: Franz, it's been a wonderful career. You're going to be much missed by people in Formula 1 and the fans watching...

    FT: This, I don't know. But thank you very much for all the support and thanks also to the fans. The fans are the basis for Formula 1. Without fans, we would not be here. It's really, really nice to see that all the grandstands are full and that the fans are so enthusiastic for Formula 1. What's even more important, there’s so many young fans and female fans as well, and that's really good.

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