James Key anxious to validate STR12 solutions

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Technical Director at Toro Rosso, James Key, has expressed his interest into knowing what routes different teams have chosen in the new regulations. He expect early solutions to be very different due to the limited time teams had to develop their cars.

On the day of the launch of the new Toro Rosso STR12, Key said the development of the car was a particularly interesting one, given this is the biggest regulation changes for the chassis and aerodynamics in his career.

"In my 20 years in F1 it's the biggest chassis change I can remember", Key said.

"In '98 the narrow track had just arrived and there were various tweaks up to 2009, when a larger change occurred, but other than the front wing it was still based around principles that we knew. These rules however, include a track change, significantly different tyres and a new aero regulation as well. From a chassis point of view it's all encompassing with a lot of new things to learn."

The complexity with new regulations is always the lack of reference, so guesses have to be made, which will eventually lead to different solutions from different teams.

"It's going to be really interesting to see what happens because one of the questions we asked ourselves when we started this project, is what makes a good 2017 car: we don't know the tyres yet, the aero has changed quite significantly, particularly when it comes to managing certain areas of the car where you have not got a philosophy that carries over from last year to this, so you've got to start from scratch in some areas.

"What makes a good car aerodynamically and mechanically for 2017? What makes a good car built to these regulations? That's the million dollar question. You have to base your decisions on how much development potential there is and then come up with development targets you believe are good. This is the twisted enjoyment of new regs! Looking at how advanced the technology is now in wind tunnels and with CFD, I would say teams are less prone to making big mistakes."

Still, Key noted that the solutions will still be very immature, given that teams were only handed wind tunnel models of the tyres in April 2016. This added to the fact that teams are further limited in their wind tunnel and CFD time, making every day count twice as much.

"You're limited on how much CFD work you can do (in the regulations) and it's interesting how the limitation plays it's role in all this because, yes, there was a lot of CFD for the conceptual work around the regulations and we adapted as the rules evolved. But the effective limitations means that you are short on time and also limited on how many runs you can do with CFD, how much of your CFD resource you can use and how many runs you can do in the wind tunnel. Therefore you need to focus carefully on all that.

"Wind tunnel and CFD testing has changed dramatically because of the regulations. It pushes you towards greater efficiency and also to do more complicated things, such that you extract the most you can out of a number of runs or from computing resource. CFD is a big early player in all this but you have to correlate with the wind tunnel at some point. You can't go too long before doing some physical tests.

CFD work was also affected by the late confirmation of the rules.

"Normally you advance first with the CFD, but because you didn't know about the tyres or the regulations until late. The model tyres came in late April, which meant the serious work in both wind tunnel and CFD could only start then. Previously it would have started in January or even December of the year before."

Winter testing begins on 27 February when all teams will be present at Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona for the first of two four-day tests ahead of the first Grand Prix in Australia.