On the eve of the first pre-season test ahead of the new F1 season, Scuderia Toro Rosso have pulled the covers off their 2014 F1 challenger, the STR9, in the pitlane at the Circuito de Jerez.
The new car, which will be driven by Jean Eric-Vergne and new recruit Daniil Kvyat, is the first to be fully designed and built under the direction of Technical Director James Key. It’s also the first Toro Rosso to feature Renault power following the team’s switch from Ferrari engines.
“Changing your engine partner is always a step into the unknown for both parties, until that working relationship is established and everyone understands how best to operate together,” admitted Key.
Changing your engine partner is always a step into the unknown for both parties.
“The installation of the engine is in itself a big challenge, dealing with the cooling circuits and other related elements, but the chassis and bodywork regulations have gone through quite a big change as well and the cars look quite different this year in some areas."
“A big part of the chassis development has involved redeveloping the aerodynamic philosophies in line with the new regulations and getting them to work with all the other challenges that come along for 2014,” Key added.
“Although certain areas of the car do not look particularly different, the subtle changes with the 2014 bodywork regulations have had a surprisingly big effect, so we have had to re-evaluate some significant areas of the cars aerodynamics.”
The success of the team’s efforts will be revealed tomorrow when Vergne jumps into the cockpit of the car for its first laps around the Circuito de Jerez.
Vergne is embarking on his third season with Toro Rosso. In a 2013 season marred by bad luck, the Frenchman finished in 15th place in the driver’s standings, scoring 13 points. An excellent sixth place at the Canadian Grand Prix added some lustre to an otherwise difficult season, however.
With Vergne’s previous engineer Phil Charles stepping up to the role of Chief Race Engineer at the team, the senior Toro driver’s car will this year be engineered by Francisco Javier Pujolar, who moved to the Faenza squad from Williams in the off-season.
With Daniel Ricciardo moving to Red Bull Racing, the second seat at Toro Rosso will be filled by rookie by promising rookie Daniil Kvyat. The Russian racer graduates to F1 from the Red Bull Junior program and follows his 2013 GP3 championship title win, a triumph secured with a sequence of victories and podium finishes in the final third of the campaign.
Key, meanwhile, insists that the team is determined to deliver more consistently than it did in 2013.
“As far as the team is concerned, the summary is – it’s a work in progress,” he concluded. “We were quicker than the points scored suggested in 2013, if you could look behind the numbers, but we didn’t make the most of our opportunities. Therefore, we’re putting all our efforts into ensuring we have a better situation for this year.”