Q&A with Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost
Q: As we go into the second half of the season, if you had a magic wand, what area of the team’s performance most needs improving?
Franz Tost: The short answer is every area, because unless all aspects of a team’s performance are operating properly, the results will not come. In terms of the car itself, we are introducing some updates over these next two races, starting with a new front wing in Hockenheim, then a new diffuser in Hungary. Other updates are in the pipeline and I am therefore convinced that car performance will improve, starting with next weekend.
Q: At the moment, Scuderia Toro Rosso is ninth in the championship. Is that where we should be?
Franz Tost: No, because I have always said our target is to finish eighth in the Constructors’ classification. We are working very hard towards achieving this goal, even if our closest rivals at Williams and Sauber are doing a good job. Therefore it will not be easy.
Q: How would you assess Buemi’s and Alguersuari’s performance?
Franz Tost: Our drivers still lack F1 experience compared to the majority of their colleagues. Therefore, as they get more track time with every race, I expect to see an improvement in the final half of the season. This is particularly relevant to Alguersuari, because from Hungary onwards, he will be able to rely on the knowledge he picked up after making his debut there in 2009, knowing all the remaining tracks, with the exception of Korea. It is not just a case of their driving getting better, because it is also true that their understanding and engineering feedback improves, which is vital if we are to get the most out of our package.
Q: Do you plan to have the same driver line-up for 2011?
Franz Tost: I believe our drivers will be well prepared for 2011, which is why they are both confirmed for next year. It is also logical, because one key role of Scuderia Toro Rosso is to bring on young drivers from the Red Bull Young Driver program and at the ages of 21 and 20 respectively, both Seb and Jaime certainly still meet the right criteria.
Q: This year for the first time you had to design your own car and now we come to the point where, again for the first time, you have to deal with continuing to develop this year’s car, while starting to work on the 2011 car. How will the team tackle this?
Franz Tost: It is another new and interesting challenge for us. The design group has been split, with part of it already working on the 2011 car, including starting wind tunnel work, which is a first, given that our Bicester wind tunnel was not fully validated this time last year and therefore was not able to contribute much to the basic design of the 2010 car. Another part of the design group is still working on developing new specifications for this year’s car. Of course, our resources are limited when compared to the teams ahead of us in the championship, but we have no plans to increase our manpower, as the F1 regulations are moving towards capping the size of the workforce in the future and while our size might be a disadvantage at the moment, it could become a positive factor in the future.
Q: Traditionally, STR has had a late surge producing some good results in the final part of the season. Do you expect this to happen again this year?
Franz Tost: I hope so! I expect a combination of car updates and improved performance from the drivers and indeed the whole team to bring us more points in what remains of the season. Why could we not do this earlier? It’s quite simply a matter of resources, in that we are a small team and even in this high-tech age, without the people to generate and drive the technology forward, not just in terms of production but also design and development, you cannot improve. We have not fixed a cut-off date when development of the STR5 will stop and, while working on the STR6, if we come up with some solutions that we feel could benefit this year’s car and we have the resources and capacity to produce new parts, then we will introduce them on STR5. It would also mean we are effectively testing for 2011 this season.
Q: Does this mean it is always a question of budget if the team is to move forward?
Franz Tost: Of course, we cannot match the budgets of the top teams, but we have spent significantly in the past twelve months on increasing our manpower and facilities. In financial terms, we are in good health, thanks to Red Bull of course and also thanks to our sponsors such as Money Service Group.