Toro Rosso target sixth spot with new STR8
4 February 2013
Scuderia Toro Rosso took the wraps off the new STR8 on Monday evening, with team boss Franz Tost declaring the squad is gunning for sixth place in the 2013 F1 Constructors' championship.
Red Bull's sister squad struggled in 2012 with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne combining to score just 26 points, leaving STR down in ninth in the team rankings and ahead of only Caterham, Marussia and the now defunct HRT F1 team.
However, while the driving line-up remains unchanged for 2013, the new car is the work of a 'changed' and 'strengthened' technical team, and Tost is optimistic about what can be achieved with the STR8, the first car to be designed by a group led by chief designer Luca Furbatto and overseen by James Key, who has been the team's technical director since last September.
“F1 is approaching a new era, specifically in 2014, and, at Toro Rosso, we have already made significant changes to our structure both in terms of manpower and facilities, to be ready for that. We believe the changes made will also help in the short term for this coming season and, combined with the fact that Daniel and Jean-Eric are more experienced, now that they have a season with us under their belts, we start winter testing in a mood of justified optimism,” Tost said.
“We will be expecting more from our drivers' this year as they both tackle their second full season of F1. However, we are well aware it is up to us to provide them with a car that's capable of allowing them to show their undoubted talent.
“After taking part in the sport's longest ever season in 2012, every team now knows just how tough a task faces us all again, even if at the moment, there are only 19 races on the calendar
“We have worked hard and hopefully done a good job these past months and the three test sessions in Spain in February will begin to reveal some trends among the teams, but until we all line up on a real race grid, there will be no clear picture of what we can expect.
“Nevertheless, we have set ourselves a target of finishing sixth in the Constructors' classification.”
So what changes have taken place over the winter?
“Stability is usually seen as a good attribute for a F1 team, however there are times when changes are required and, as Scuderia Toro Rosso prepares for its eighth season of Grand Prix racing, there is something of a new look to our team,” Tost continued.
“In terms of the Faenza facility itself, our newest building, known as STR3 is now fully operational and home to our composites department, which is equipped with the very latest technology and, more importantly, staffed with highly qualified people. Being able to produce more and more of our car in-house is a great asset, as it gives us total control over quality and deadlines, which is vital if we want to move up the order in the pit lane.
“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.