Despite coming off a disappointing end to the 2012 F1 season, Scuderia Toro Rosso is setting itself the challenge of seeing off the likes of Sauber and Force India to claim sixth place in the 2013 constructors' standings.
Although both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne have started brightly in the opening pre-season test at Jerez, that target will be seen as ambitious by some, but team principal Franz Tost sees no reason not to aim high.
“[Our objective] is to do better in the constructors' championship,” he confirmed, “The goal that I identified for us is P6, [although people at the team] breathed deeply! It is in our hands to get the best out of what we have - so let's get started!”
Retaining the same driver pairing as last year will give Toro Rosso an element of stability as it looks to pick up the pieces and close back in on the teams it was fighting with through 2011, but Tost admits that the Faenza outfit needs to learn from the frustration of last season.
“We had a car that was good at the start of the season, but we lost out on development in the course of the year,” he confirmed, “We have done a very detailed analysis of where it went wrong last year - in what areas our car had deficits - and hopefully have learned from that 2012 experience. I am pretty sure that we have a much better car now and will be able to give our two guys a much better chance to compete.”
Despite the temptation to switch attention to the new rulebook being introduced for the 2014 season, Tost knows that pressing on with the STR8 is the only way to achieve his constructors' championship ambition.
“True, this season we have the 'old rules' but, nevertheless, we have to develop the car until the very last race,” he stressed, “We didn't manage this last year and, if you do not manage that, you will be handed down mercilessly. What this means this year is that you are looking at a double burden, first to keep up the development of the 2013 car and then to find the perfect time to start the 2014 programme.
“We have started already and what can I say? It will be difficult and complicated - a real challenge from the technical side as well as from the economic side. The 2014 car will be technically immensely complicated - the turbo charger, the cooling systems, the new gearbox, the new monocoque - and the race strategy we are used to will be thrown completely overboard. My prediction: it will be a very expensive year!
“Our battle cry is 'efficiency'! We cannot rely on 600 employees - we have around 300 [although] in peak times we add 30 contractors for the production facility. We have to be efficient to the bone and sometimes you are better off and more flexible than with a huge headcount. I feel that we have a good situation with our technical department and that we are on our way.”