Toro Rosso finished last year in ninth position. Like the other three new teams in F1, they were constructing a car of their own for the first time. But unlike the other newbies, they had a wealth of data and experience to go on and so they finished exactly where they were forecast to – or as technical director Giorgio Ascanelli put it: 'We were never going to finish above ninth, and if we finished below it, we would want shooting'.
This year it’s a different story: after a rocky start, Toro have scored in the last three races and moved up to seventh in the Constructors’ table. It’s imbued the team with a newfound confidence, which senior driver Sébastien Buemi was happy to discuss with us.
The team has been on a consistent run of points finishes recently: has the car changed, have the circuits suited it, or is it just luck?
It’s many things. I think one you overlooked is that Jaime [Alguersuari] had a very effective strategy in the last two races. A strange strategy perhaps, but it worked out fine. So we scored a few points and we’re currently in front of Force India and Williams. We need to continue working in the direction we’re going and hope the results continue. We have a few updates coming, so hopefully it’ll keep the cars as competitive as they have been in the last few races – because we really, really need to push. Hard.
'We said at the beginning of the season we wanted to finish eighth in the championship'
Also, the team has started to come together. That was always going to take a long time. After the rules changed and we were no longer allowed to have help from Red Bull [Technology] it isn’t something you can build in six months. It takes a long time to get your wind tunnel programme to work, to get the CFD [aerodynamic simulation] and all of those other departments working properly together. But now we start to see our own signs of evolution; if you look at our car it’s completely different to last year and it seems to be going in the right direction.
So, going into the second half of the year, have Toro Rosso adjusted their goals?
I think the main objective is still to finish in front of an established team, which, the way things are, means either Williams, Sauber or Force India. We said at the beginning of the season we wanted to finish eighth, one position better than last year. At the moment we are seventh and we need to continue like that. We need to get the maximum from the car and see where that takes us by the end of the season.
Do drivers get more of a kick from driving somewhere as fast and flowing as Silverstone?
I know I do. It’s nice because you have the high-speed corners and usually a stiff car and that just makes it good. Obviously the conditions are always a bit tricky around here – the rain is never far away – so it’s important to have a good read of the forecast, knowing what to do on the car. But I really like this circuit and now with the new paddock and the new sections of track it’s going to be even more interesting.