With the launch of the new STR7 now done, Toro Rosso's technical director Giorgio Ascanelli explains some of the design changes made to end up with the STR7. He clearly states that all major rule changes for 2012 reduce the efficiency of the car.
"One of the rule changes for this year that had a significant effect on the design of the car was the need to lower the nose. This is a safety rule put forward by the FIA in order to tune the height of the nose to match the anti-penetration panels which have been applied to the side of the monocoque to protect the driver. The shape of the front end of the car is now less favourable than it was in terms of its aerodynamics.
"We also had to contend with a rule change that extended the anti-penetration panels around the car which are now larger, to provide greater protection for the driver: a good move for the drivers, but one with implications on the performance of the car.
"The third point relates to the exhausts as the rules now demand we relocate the exhaust exit to a more benign position, which effectively means no low exhaust blowing under the diffuser just ahead of the rear wheel. This has involved moving the exhausts higher, to where they were in 2009, before the new rules regarding bodywork had come out. This rule change has therefore led to the loss of a very high energy stream that will slow the cars down considerably, unless of course someone has come up with something particularly interesting! The exhaust blowing restrictions will effectively reduce the effect by a massive amount, down to about 10% of what it was last year.
"Less obvious to the naked eye, another technical directive from the FIA limits very much what you can do to the engine in terms of electronic set-up. I believe it will be very difficult to get any advantage over one’s opponents out of this area as it is now closely monitored.
"One very significant change concerns the front wing. It was announced quite late in the form of an FIA technical directive: concerned by vibration and excessive deflection of the front wing, for 2012, the governing body has drastically reduced the flexibility of the front wing, allowing it to move by only 10mm instead of 20mm when a 100kg load is applied to it. The need for added stiffness means an increase in weight and so we have a large amount of weight added to the nose of the car, which can be problematic in dealing with the regulation regarding the weight distribution of the car.
"Looking at the design of STR7 in general terms, we could start from the fact that 2011’s STR6 was a good concept, but it did not lend itself well to running a low exhaust and was better with a high one. Therefore it was logical that as the rules have changed in this direction, we should stick with a similar concept for 2012, expanding on the idea and its characteristics. Cooling as always, plays a major part in the design of the car and we have done something which should allow even more of an undercut on the sidepods, aimed at getting a better streamlining of the rear car. In simple terms, we have made a shorter chassis, with a larger distance between the engine and the gearbox, so that the car can be thinner and more streamlined.
"We have tried to improve the behaviour of our DRS and we have a new generation of wings aimed at this, hopefully in time for the debut of the car. We have also worked on the braking system, because we wanted to improve its efficiency, both front and rear. On paper it seems to be very strong and we will see what our new drivers will have to say about it."