James Key had admitted Scuderia Toro Rosso's preparations for the 2016 Formula 1 season have been hampered by the late decision to switch to Ferrari power for the new season.
Having made its debut in F1 with Cosworth power in 2006, Toro Rosso used Ferrari engines from 2007 until 2014 when it was brought into line with Red Bull stablemate by adopting Renault V6 Hybrid power units.
With the relationship between Renault and Red Bull deteriorating towards the end of the 2015 season, Toro Rosso took the opportunity to accept an offer from Ferrari to run a supply of year-old engines for 2016.
With the deal only signed off officially in December, Toro Rosso technical director Key says the team has been forced to make changes to its STR11 to incorporate the new power unit, putting the potential disruption in context by saying he would ideally like to have known what engine the team was set to use back in March.
“When you've got a tricky engine situation it's always a compromise,” he told Sky Sports F1
. "There is a compromise because you've really got to be optimising your car around what is an incredibly complicated installation of these power units. Back in March is when you're really getting to grips with what you're trying to do.
“You'd never want it because it is a massive distraction and it does compromise your car, but it's surprising what you can do when you're faced with uncertainty."
Despite this, Key has faith that the Faenza-based team – which finished seventh in the 2015 constructors' standings – will ensure Toro Rosso will be in the best shape possible come pre-season testing.
"It does compromise from a technical viewpoint. In terms of what the team is doing, I don't think it makes the slightest bit of difference. You simply shuffle plans around accordingly.
"We've got various stages of planning, there are some really good guys to work on all this stuff, so we've got a lot of very competent production guys and designers who are working hard to make sure that we're in the best shape possible.”
Toro Rosso - which will continue with Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz as its drivers - will be one of four teams using Ferrari power in 2016, alongside the factory team, long-time collaborators Sauber and incoming outfit Haas. Toro Rosso will, however, be the only team to use a year-old power unit.
Ironically, though Toro Rosso's switch from Renault and Ferrari was premeditated by parent team Red Bull's desire to sever ties with the French firm, the two parties will continue to work together in 2016, albeit with the engine badged as TAG-Heuer.