To the very end, all Franz Tost cared about was racing.
After the final Grand Prix of the season and 18 years as a team principal, Tost bid farewell to AlphaTauri, a team he had overseen from its inception in 2006 when it started life in Formula 1 as Toro Rosso.
It was a measure of his dedication that before his 351st and final race, at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Tost said his only interest was the performance of new parts on the car and to finish seventh in the constructors’ championship. AlphaTauri ended up eighth, three points short of its target.
Tost, 67, will be a consultant to Red Bull for the next two years. Away from the sport, he said he had “a very long to-do list because for the last 20 to 30 years, I’ve not had time for anything.”
Under Tost’s tutelage, Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri were training grounds for many young drivers before being promoted to Red Bull, including Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly.
On the team radio after his 19th victory of the season, in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen honored Tost, who helped start his career. “He had lots of us under his wing, and it is his last race, so thank you to Franz,” he said.
Gasly said Tost had “been a key player” in his career. The driver was one of only two who won races under Tost. The other was Vettel.
“He was amazing with me — very honest, straightforward, a unique personality,” Gasly said. “I have massive respect for him because of his dedication, love and passion for Formula 1. He’s given his whole life for this, for Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri.”
Of the 17 drivers who raced under Tost, Verstappen, who won his third successive title this year, and Vettel, a four-time champion, stand out.
“All the drivers had their strengths, they were all good characters,” Tost said. “Of course, Sebastian and Max won so many championships.
“They were the best, no discussion about this. They were the best, in their talent, driving skills, especially their passion. That’s very, very important, but also their discipline.”
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, said Tost had been a great asset to Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri.
“He’s an out-and-out racer,” Horner said in an interview. “For him, any day not spent at a circuit is a day wasted.
“We will miss him. We will miss his passion, his straight-talking, and he’s played such a key role in developing young drivers.”
AlphaTauri had announced that Tost would be replaced with a new management structure. Laurent Mekies will become team principal in the new year. He was the team’s chief engineer from 2006 to 2014, when he joined the F.I.A. as safety director before becoming deputy race director. Most recently, he worked as racing director at Ferrari.
Mekies will run the team in partnership with Peter Bayer, who joined as chief executive in June. Bayer worked at the F.I.A. as executive director and secretary general for sport.
“There’s no politics with this man. There’s only a race team, and that’s all that matters,” Bayer said about Tost in an interview. “It’s rare in the paddock to have a straightforward, nonpolitical, honest answer.”
Although Tost will not sit on the pit wall anymore, he will keep a close eye on his team.
“I will be at home with a minimum of three, four TVs where I will see the times, the split times, everything,” Tost said. “I will watch Formula 1, MotoGP and all the other things I watched in the past.”