1 February 2011
Q&A - Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso
Laurent Mekies looks ahead to the 2011 F1 season for Toro Rosso
How will the new rules affect what we see on track?
There is the KERS obviously which is probably the most important one, there is the moveable rear wing and there are some changes in the aero regulations in general. I think we have to remember that we are coming from an exceptional season as guys were fighting for the championship until the very last race. I think for the fans everyone delivered a very good show, so you are not aiming at having something radically different. The moveable rear wing and the KERS should help boost the number of overtaking moves you will see during the season which is good for the spectacle. I think we are starting from a very good base in terms of how good the show was for the spectators in 2010.
Tell us more about the KERS
Engineering-wise it's a great challenge. We understand that it is also the direction that the general automotive industry is taking, with electric engines and recoverable energy. So for us it's an excellent challenge. The fact our KERS comes from Ferrari is also a big advantage as Ferrari was one of the very few teams that was using KERS two years ago, so obviously we will benefit from their experience in that field. They have improved it further, therefore we are looking forward to using the KERS and optimising the system.
The drivers are going to be very busy in the cockpit
The workload for the driver, with the KERS and the rear wing will be increased. There is a lot to do, both in terms of how well we charge the system while the car is braking and in terms of how well we will use the power coming out of the corners or while attempting an overtaking manoeuvre. The number of situations that can be tackled with the system is very high and it is going to be a big part of the challenge for the race engineers and also for the drivers. The drivers are going to be very busy, both in trying to release the energy at what we think is the best moment for lap time optimisation or while trying to do an overtaking manoeuvre and, on top of that, he will be busy in the braking phase, when he has to recharge the KERS, so this will have an influence on the balance of the car during the braking phase and it is something he will be able to play with during the race, trying to rebalance the degradation of the tyres, to rebalance the fuel load on the car. He will also have to deal with the amount of energy he wants to recover under braking. So it's going to be very challenging for the crews and the drivers.
How will you manage this situation from the pits, running the KERS and the rear wing?
At the moment we are in the simulation phase, so we are trying to simulate all the possible combinations and try to define what we think is the optimum for every type of condition. Once this is done, we will advise our drivers on what we believe is the best way to use the system and we will then tackle the reality of this when we are at the track.
What are your expectations for 2011?
I think that as a competitor we certainly want to keep our position ahead of the three new teams. That will be the first target to keep ahead of these three in performance terms. So we are hoping to raise our level to do that. The next target is the guys we were fighting with towards the end of the last season, very good teams like Sauber, Williams and Force India. It will be a case of seeing which of these teams will have produced the best interpretation to suit the rules.
What is the best thing about Toro Rosso?
The best thing here is the atmosphere. When I started here it was actually a question for me, why in some teams people would not leave, because in F1 there is always quite a high turnaround and there is much less of that here. Why? It is down to the atmosphere as there is a very strong team-spirit and people help each other. It creates a very strong bond between the guys and we are all enjoying doing what we do. In the end, we are all motor racing fans first before being mechanics or engineers and that's what creates the great spirit here.
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