Scuderia Toro Rosso
This weekend signals the start of the European season. At least that’s the phrase you will read in every preview of the Spanish Grand Prix. It’s what we have always said, but these days it is not completely accurate. For starters, after Spain comes Monaco and then we are off to Canada, which the last time we checked was not in Europe.
In the past, when one talked about the start of the European season one really meant the start of the season proper, with the opening round or couple of rounds involving long haul flights considered a simple amuse bouche before the racing got serious back on the Old Continent. In fact, it was not uncommon for some teams to only introduce their new car at the first race in Europe. In modern F1, these races are in the minority, with only eight of the twenty rounds on the 2012 calendar involving driving trucks and motorhomes to the race venues.
Nevertheless, there is a sense of a new beginning, helped by the tradition of being nearer to home, the longer break since Bahrain and the fact that Formula 1 even returned to past traditions by staging an in-season test session at Mugello last week. The three days in Tuscany actually turned out to be more like two and a half because of rain, but it proved useful all the same as the Scuderia Toro Rosso designers and engineers looked at getting more performance out of the STR7. In a few days time, we will get a first indication of how that work is coming along. Barcelona is a favourite for testing – we were there twice this winter – and it’s easy to see why, because the Catalunya circuit has a bit of everything in terms of corners, speeds, grip levels, direction changes, mixed in with unpredictable winds and a mercurial ability to change characteristics from one day to the next or even one session to the next. It’s tough on tyres too and the four races so far this season have shown how important a role Pirelli plays in the evolution of a Grand Prix weekend. For the Toro Rosso crew, this weekend means shorter flights, less time away and a more familiar working environment in the shape of the team trucks, “Tree House” offices and the Energy Station hospitality area. Both our drivers have plenty of experience of this track in the lower formulae too. However, those parameters apply to all the teams so no advantage to be had there. The past four races have seen the closest racing in F1 for a while, so this weekend should provide another exciting Grand Prix in which our target is to pick up a good points haul in what is going to be a very long championship. Including the Spanish GP, there are still 16 races to go, which a few years back would have constituted an entire season.