Q+A with Franz Tost

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

As the Spanish Grand Prix signals the start of the European part of the 2010 Formula One Championship season, we thought it was a good time to interview Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost about the season so far and expectations for the upcoming races.

Before the season, you said we had to finish in the top eight in the Constructors’ championship and currently that’s where we are. Does that mean you are happy with the team’s performance so far? “Not entirely, as we could have had better results. Through reliability problems, we lost some Friday sessions and in such a closely contested championship, every minute of track time is vital to set up the car correctly and to get the most out of the package. On top of that, in the races, our drivers have been involved in accidents, generally not their own fault, which has cost them a finish in the points. Analysing the actual race performance, it’s clear we should have picked up more points than the two we have so far. However, I am optimistic that our package is capable of delivering more points in the near future.”

What is your assessment of the STR5, the first car we have designed completely in-house? “The STR5 seems quite competitive in terms of performance, however, you can only be truly happy if you win races, but within the limitations of our resources, I believe we are working in an efficient manner and making progress, because building the infrastructure to become a front-running team takes time. We are on the right road.”

For the fourth consecutive year, the team is using Ferrari engines, which have experienced some problems this year, with the Ferrari team itself and its other customer team. How is it that we seem to have avoided these issues? “It is possible that we have adopted a more cautious approach in the way we manage the engines. This does not mean we can afford to be complacent as engine failures are always a possibility.”

In Barcelona, the spotlight will be on local boy Jaime Alguersuari. How do you assess his season so far? “He has made a great step forward from when he competed in the second half of last season. In that time, he discovered how much he had to learn and the level of commitment required to become a successful Formula 1 driver. He was clever enough to understand this and therefore he put himself through a very intensive and disciplined testing and physical training programme and everyone in the team is impressed by his progress, so we expect him to deliver very good race results at some point this year.”

And what about our “veteran” Buemi? “Sebastien’s performance this year has been much better than the results would indicate. Apart from at the opening round in Bahrain, every race has seen him involved in accidents not of his own making: twice with Kobayashi and in China with Liuzzi. I have absolutely no doubt he will deliver some very good results soon.”

There have been some interesting technical developments in these early races. Can Scuderia Toro Rosso keep pushing on this front as the season progresses? “Our technical department is working very hard and we will deliver some updates over the forthcoming races and I believe we can step up in terms of our performance level. Specifically for the Spanish Grand Prix, we will introduce new brake ducts and a new engine cover. In the last couple of races we already saw an improvement in our package, so in Barcelona, I would hope that if we do everything perfectly, we could get at least one driver through into Qualifying 3 for the first time this season, or if not, then at least very close to tenth on the grid, so that more points has to be a realistic target for us this weekend. Both drivers tested here during the winter and for Jaime specifically, it is his home race, on the first track of the year that is not new to him, where he has competed on a regular basis in the lower formulae.”

Source Scuderia Toro Rosso