“There is more to come, with work on another new building due to begin in the second quarter of this year for completion in 2014. It will be the hub of our operation, providing new offices and a home for our engineers and designers who are currently working out of a rather cramped facility. This building will also house the Car Assembly and Preparation area, as well as the Quality Control department, the Machine Shop and Stores.
“In terms of our organisational structure, over the winter we created a Vehicle Performance Group, which is headed up by chief engineer, Laurent Mekies. This new group will focus on a variety of areas, with a strong emphasis on data analysis, an area where we have room for improvement as well as carrying out a lot of simulation work to help the design team make better informed decisions. It should also see an increase in our pace of development, particularly on the mechanical side of the car. We could not neglect the aero side and we have made changes to and expanded our aerodynamics department and there are plans to strengthen our CFD and Wind Tunnel operations.
“We also have some people in different roles this year, as well as bringing some new blood into the Toro Rosso family. James Key has been with us as technical director for six months now, while chief designer Luca Furbatto has been in Faenza for just over a year and the STR8 is the first car to be penned by him and his design team.
“Both our drivers will have new race engineers for this season: Daniel Ricciardo will work with Marco Matassa, who was his data engineer and has already engineered him at a couple of races in 2012 and some tests. Jean-Eric Vergne is teamed up with Phil Charles, formerly a race engineer at Renault F1.”
“Even though the 2013 season has not even started yet though, another date is already occupying our minds, in the shape of 2014,” he added, “Next year, the sport of F1 faces the biggest shake up in terms of technical regulations that we have seen in a very long time.
“Naturally, like everyone else in the pit lane, we started our preparations for this new challenge a long time ago.”
Key concurs that 2014 will have a big influence on this season: “The major technical regulation change coming in 2014 is having an impact on us already and will do throughout the coming year. Every team faces this challenge, regardless of size, but it has a bigger impact on the smaller teams: we are looking at a completely different car so you cannot carry over many established designs or philosophies from 2013 to 2014. We will have to build up our knowledge of the new regulations and their implications significantly and apply it to the design of the 2014 car.
“It's a balance between being as competitive as possible this year, while being well prepared and competitive for 2014 and beyond, but that's the nature of the business and a great challenge,” he concluded.