There has been a lot of speculation about which teams might challenge for the first podium positions of the 2006 season but Toro Rosso hasn't exactly been at the top of the list -- or even on the list. However, Mercedes boss Norbert Haug believes...
There has been a lot of speculation about which teams might challenge for the first podium positions of the 2006 season but Toro Rosso hasn't exactly been at the top of the list -- or even on the list. However, Mercedes boss Norbert Haug believes the Italian squad has an advantage with its restricted V10 engine and could spring a surprise.
"If people ask me if they have an advantage, I have to say yes," Haug told reporters at Bahrain in regard to Toro Rosso, formerly Minardi. "They were in the same second as Honda here (at Bahrain during winter testing). They were strong in the tests and I am convinced they could even go for a podium here."
Toro Rosso is the only team to run the restricted V10 this season and the debate about the supposed advantage has rumbled on throughout the winter. The main argument seems to be that the V10 rule was intended for the smaller teams, such as Minardi, who didn't have the resources to fund a V8 package -- with Red Bull backing, Toro Rosso surely no longer has that disadvantage.
McLaren team principal Ron Dennis said there will be complaints if Toro Rosso makes a sudden improvement from its previous back-of-the-grid status. "If they start to pick up points then those people who are subjected to the loss of points will probably be very vocal about it," he remarked.
Toro Rosso aside, Dennis shrugged off speculation that more immediate rivals have the upper hand on McLaren for the first race. It's often repeated that winter test times shouldn't be taken too seriously as an indicator of competitiveness and Dennis thinks one or two teams may not be as quick as they would like to suggest.
"We think there has been some showmanship from some of the teams but, at the end of the day, if we are not there we won't be too far away," he said, naming no names. "Whatever the outcome of this race, we will be stronger in every race through the season."