We spoke to Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost about the launch of the team's STR6 in Valencia, Spain, on Tuesday, February 1.
Is this a crucial year for the team?
It’s the sixth season of Toro Rosso in Formula One and the past five years have shown a good history for the team, as we had to build everything up almost from zero. We are quite confident that we have a good future and can have a good year in 2011. We are still building up our infrastructure. In a Formula One team, there is always movement, so you have to keep an eye on every department trying to improve performance. We brought in new people, for example, in the aerodynamic department in Bicester [Oxfordshire, UK], where we are currently running two shifts in our wind tunnel. Here in Faenza, especially on the production side we have increased the number of employees which makes me quite confident that in 2011 we will have a successful season.
A lot of rule changes, some of them aimed at improving overtaking. What sort of season do you expect in general terms for the sport?
The major rule changes aimed at overtaking are the adjustable rear wing and KERS, the kinetic energy recovery system. Concerning the rear wing adjustment, the rules state that if a driver is within one second of the car in front, he is allowed to adjust the rear wing, which means that, at the end of a long straight, he will be 10–15kph faster than his competitor, which should enable him to overtake. Whether during the races it will go like this, we don’t know yet. Regarding the KERS system, for sure it will improve performance during qualifying, by three to four tenths of a second, and it will also improve the performance during the start procedure, as well as being a help to the driver when accelerating out of slow speed corners. I think that with these two systems, we will see more overtaking manoeuvres, although I must say that, already in 2010 we saw some very good overtaking moves and a very exciting season. I am looking forward to 2011 and we will see if these changes will increase the number of overtaking manoeuvres or not.
The longest season ever. How is the team planning to tackle it?
We have increased the number of mechanics and also of some other people such as those in the electronics department. I do not see any major problems at the start of the season, but towards the end, with the final race coming at the end of November, it will mean that the whole organisational job for 2012 has to start much earlier, possibly in September, October, because you lose the complete month of November, when you would normally be tackling restructuring processes and other tasks you have to deal with at the end of the season. Personally, I look forward to every Formula 1 season, because I like going to races and I don’t have any problem with going to 20 races. It could even be more!
'Generally I have no fears, that is in my nature'
How do you expect Toro Rosso's two drivers to perform?
I expect a good performance from both of them: Sébastien Buemi is in his third season with us, which means he should have the measure of the job and be experienced enough to race well, but it also depends on how good our car will be. Jaime Alguersuari is in his second full season and I also expect a performance increase from his side. If he continues like last year where he improved race by race, showing a really good performance towards the end of the season and if our car runs well, then I expect a good season closing the gap to the teams currently in front of us.
Scuderia Toro Rosso is Red Bull’s junior team, aimed at bringing on young drivers, so what are your thoughts on Daniel Ricciardo joining the team as a Friday morning driver?
I am happy that from the young Red Driver pool, we are seeing another highly skilled young driver coming to us, as Ricciardo has shown a good performance level in recent seasons and I don’t see it as an extra work load running him in the first free practice session on Friday mornings at the races. He will learn all the race tracks and get used to Formula One and apart from this, it provides us with a good possibility to see where our other two drivers are. I think Toro Rosso is good at this sort of job, as we showed with Vettel.
Sum up your hopes and fears for the coming season…
Generally I have no fears, that is in my nature. The first hope is that we perform well, with a good, fast competitive car. Apart from that, we need the drivers and the team to do a good job and if all these components come together then I am convinced we can have a good season and close the gap to our direct competitors.
Are you excited at the thought of another season starting again?
Yes, I am looking forward to it because not racing during the winter time is a stupid loss of time!