Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has again insisted that the team is not for sale, despite persistent rumours that new owners are being sought to ease the burden on Red Bull.

The speculation continues to surface as the team struggles to make the most of its 'RB3-Ferrari' package, but Tost dismisses it amid claims that the team is improving - and knows what it needs to address to improve further.

"The rumours were annoying because it is not pleasant for our employees to read this sort of thing," he said in the build-up to this weekend's European Grand Prix, "The rumours are not true and are down to publicity seekers, jokers and over-imaginative journalists.

"There is a positive commitment between ourselves and Red Bull Technology, and we also have a good relationship with Red Bull Racing. We have a solid base but, in F1, there is no such thing as 'enough money'. We have to improve our infrastructure and the team performance generally. Naturally this is easier to achieve with more
money, so we are looking for sponsors.

"But the team is getting better all the time. Since Giorgio Ascanelli joined us, we have improved immensely on the technical side, especially in terms of the technical operations point of view. We still struggle with reliability and I hope we can get this under control from Budapest onwards. We know what our problems are and we have to make some design changes, which is why they cannot happen overnight.

"We also have to improve the performance of the car. Currently, we are clearly behind our expectations. We have a fantastic relationship with Ferrari that will continue next year, and we have had no engine failures during race weekends. The main problem is downforce, particularly at the front end of the car. We will have a new front wing, but it is unlikely to be signed off before Turkey. On the mechanical side, we have some good ideas which we hope to incorporate into the car to improve its set-up and, therefore, its performance.

"We have improved by three to four tenths recently, but our direct opponents - such as Williams and Honda - have also improved. I go back to the start of the year when we were maybe two-and-a-half seconds off the pace and it is very hard to close this gap. To succeed, you need to be ready from race one and then produce a normal development programme through the year."

Tost also played down suggestions that the Adrian Newey-penned RB3 - rechristened STR2 for use by the Italian team - had been too big a step forward for the former Minardi team to get to grips with at the start of the year.

"We have some very good, very experienced mechanics and for them it was not a problem, but we also have some less experienced members of the team for whom understanding the car was quite difficult at first," he admitted, "But the learning process is over now and everyone understands how it works, how it goes together and how it comes apart. We have no problems in this area.

"Even in the first two races of the season, we got three car finishes out of a possible four, which means that our team was up to the job in hand. In subsequent races, we retired because of technical failures, driver errors or collisions with other drivers.

"The team had to move up a step last winter and the job of ensuring the team is operating at its maximum is still not complete. We still have a way to go to perform at a level that will allow us to be successful in F1. But we have some very good ideas and I think that, by the end of this season, we will have made a step forward. By next year, we will be much nearer to our goals in terms of how the team operates."

As had been the case late last season, and into the winter, the team is putting pressure on drivers Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed to prove that they deserve a place in the line-up, with several candidates for 2008 - including multiple Champ Car title-winner Sebastien Bourdais - apparently waiting in the wings.

"They need to improve," Tost said of his current line-up, "So far, it has been difficult for both of them to get the most out of the car, especially in qualifying, but there is room for improvement in every aspect of our team. But I believe that our group has potential and we can be successful."

 

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