Scuderia Toro Rosso has become the ninth team to take the wraps off its 2009 Formula One contender but, while many will say that they have seen it all before at the Red Bull launch, the Italian outfit insists that the STR4 differs from its sister.

Although there are obvious similarities between the Toro Rosso machine and the RB5 that broke cover at Jerez exactly a month ago, STR technical director Giorgio Ascanelli is at pains to point out that there are also necessary differences between the two, with the Faenza operation having far more control over its technical destiny, right from the design stage through to construction, than many give it credit for.

"Red Bull Technology does extremely significant work in defining the essential characteristics of the new car: its length, wheelbase, weight distribution, its basic metric characteristics," Ascanelli concedes, "However, with any F1 car, the packaging revolves around an engine and peculiarities from the drivers and, as we run a different engine to our sister team, it involves a different fuel system and fuel tank. Therefore, ours is completely different to the Red Bull Racing car and is designed here by us.

"The same goes for the water and oil systems linked to the engine. Different engines have different heat rejection and different operating temperatures, with materials specified to different levels. Also, the tolerances, which you have to respect when building an engine, are tuned in such a way that an engine works at its best within a defined temperature range. This in itself conditions the radiators and also all of the internal aerodynamics. That then impacts on the aero side and this work is also done in Faenza.

"The engine mates to a gearbox via some fixings and a clutch. Here again, the clutch installation is completely different between the two cars. In fact, the clutch itself is very different and the work of installing clutch and gearbox is also completely done in Faenza, involving a casing designed in Faenza and using completely different technology to the one Red Bull Technology provides to Red Bull Racing. The same goes for the oil and water radiators and the entire hydraulic and electronic systems."

"If you take parts manufactured in the factory or purchased directly by us, almost 100 percent of the car is made in-house - our procurement department processes 14,000 drawings, including those for car components, jigs, tooling, assembly and so on," team manager Gianfranco Fantuzzi elaborates, revealing that the most obvious increase in home production came from the composites department.

"At first, we decided to make a few parts in our own composites department, but for the first time ever, we have now made the actual chassis in-house, whereas last year it was produced by Carbotec in Austria. This has been a big challenge for us and the chassis took up 100 per cent of our energy up to the start of the season. It involved re-commissioning the original autoclave that has been here since before the Toro Rosso name went up over the door. We also had to take on more staff with good qualifications in the fields of laminating and trimming. In fact, before tackling STR4, we actually made a 2008 STR3 chassis to see how it would work out and that proved to be a very valuable experience."

The factory itself has grown, with an additional building shaping up to be the new machine shop, while additional staff have joined on the design and composites side. As for the team's future expansion, a lot will depend on how the sport's rules determine just what constitutes a manufacturer and constructor in Formula One.

Ferrari provides the engines for STR's challenge for a third consecutive year and, although the V8 unit retains the same 056 code number as a result of the engine freeze, the new rules concerning how many engines can be used per season, plus the reduction in maximum rev limits and the need to cope with the arrival of KERS, the engineers have had plenty to think about.

"The work of the FIA and FOTA led to several measures aimed at reducing costs in F1 and, on the engine front, each driver is now allowed eight engines per season, while the maximum rev limit has been reduced," Gilles Simon, Ferrari's head of engine and electronics confirms, "The average life of an engine therefore goes from around 1200km to 2500km, but how the engines are managed over the course of a race weekend is entirely down to the teams themselves.

"Because of the change in regulations, the FIA has allowed the teams to carry out work on the engines to address reliability issues, with the specification frozen at the end of March '09. The only elements that could be changed concern the inlet trumpets, the position of the injectors and the configuration of the exhaust system. If a reliability issue occurs during the coming season, an engine manufacturer can ask the FIA for permission to take action to resolve it, as long as this is approved by all the other teams.

"The 056 Ferrari V8 engine therefore remains the same as last year. It is fitted with a KERS system, designed by Ferrari in co-operation with Magneti Marelli. Running KERS is primarily down to Toro Rosso, but one additional Ferrari engineer will work on KERS within the Toro Rosso team at the race tracks."

The relationship with STR, now Ferrari's only customer following Force India's decision to get into bed with McLaren and Mercedes, should prove to be a two-way street for the Prancing Horse, according to Simon, who sees value in supplying more than one team.

"Ferrari's policy of supplying engines to customer teams has never been purely a financial one, as it also provides additional technical feedback," he explains, "Obviously, with the ban on in-season testing, our relationship with Scuderia Toro Rosso is of increased importance to us, as it provides further opportunities to test the reliability of the engine and its related systems."

Having beaten Red Bull Racing to the punch when it comes to winning races for the drinks brand, Toro Rosso is keen to maintain its momentum in 2009 - even if it means upsetting its colleagues in Milton Keynes. With the new rulebook coming into play this season, Ascanelli believes that another surprise to rival that of Sebastian Vettel's victory at Monza last September could be possible.

"It's going to be an interesting season," he reasons.

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