Technical director Giorgio Ascanelli says Toro Rosso has benefitted from being 'cleverer' than its rivals with race strategy so far this season although he admits it will be difficult for the team to fight for seventh in the championship standings.
The Italian team held the position going into the German Grand Prix last weekend where a sixth place finish for Adrian Sutil allowed Force India to move ahead of Toro Rosso in the standings.
The gap between the two teams is currently just three points, with Williams 13 points behind, but Ascanelli admitted it was difficult to imagine that Toro Rosso will be able to finish seventh come the seasons end.
“Probably not – but we are trying,” he replied in a Q&A on redbull.com
when asked if the team can finish seventh. “Why not? Because we have had our ups and down. The performance of the car has been sometimes better, sometimes worse than Force India and usually better than Williams.
“You can see distinct steps in each team's performance when they have something that works really well. I'd say in terms of sheer performance we haven't had the upper hand, but I think our racecraft has been a little cleverer – or luckier – than the others. I'd like to think cleverer but I have to admit that luck comes into it.
“At this stage the 13 points we have over Williams is a definite advantage going into the second half of the year. The small gap between Force India and ourselves can disappear in one race. But at the moment Force India's performance looks pretty strong. They looked fast at Silverstone and the Nurburgring.”
Ascanelli added that the addition of the Indian Grand Prix later this year was likely to work against his team, with Force India likely to extend development on its current car in an effort to secure a strong result in its 'home' race when Toro Rosso have already switched focus to 2012.
“What happens next depends on how much people are still prepared to devote to this year, and how much they will concentrate on 2012,” he said. “Williams don't usually follow a heavy development programme in the second half of the year and this year they have a large change of technical management.
“Force India, I assume, will push at least as late as the Indian Grand Prix. So, it's hard to finish seventh, eighth is a more reasonable target, which we would be happy with.”