Scuderia Toro Rosso ready for new era with STR6
The new Toro Rosso STR6 was unveiled today at Valencia, the sister team of Red Bull Racing presented a brand-new car which the Faenza-based squad has build for this year's Formula One season. Team Principal Franz Tost was of course present in Valencia, and reckons his Toro Rosso team is ready for a new era. "We are quite confident that we have a good future and can have a good year in 2011. We are still building up our infrastructure. In a Formula One team, there is always movement, so you have to keep an eye on every department trying to improve performance," said the Austrian today.
Toro Rosso has undergone some changes during the winter break. "We brought in new people, for example, in the aerodynamic department in Bicester [Oxfordshire, UK], where we are currently running two shifts in our wind tunnel. Here in Faenza, especially on the production side we have increased the number of employees which makes me quite confident that in 2011 we will have a successful season," Tost said to the media.
Like all other teams, Toro Rosso is in for a long season with 20 races on the calendar, and Tost and his team are ready for it. "We have increased the number of mechanics and also of some other people such as those in the electronics department. I do not see any major problems at the start of the season. Personally, I look forward to every Formula One season, because I like going to races and I don't have any problem with going to 20 races. It could even be more!', Tost confessed.
A closer look at the STR6
Of course the STR6 looks like the Red Bull RB7, but make no mistake about this, it's the livery that makes it look the same, as Toro Rosso has build and designed this car for the second successive year 'in-house'. The sharp and pointy nose of the car is high of the ground, certainly higher than the Red Bull's. As usual, to mark the difference between the two Red Bull sponsored cars, the Toro Rosso nose is painted gold, while the nose of the Red Bull is painted yellow. The front wing and especially the flaps have an extraordinary complicated design, with the nose high up in the air, the middle section of the wing guides all the air to the under-tray of the car, and the flaps and the wing endplates are aerodynamically shaped to create an optimum airflow around the front wheels.
The rear of the car looks relatively smooth, and the engine cover slopes right down to the gearbox, and has a small shark-like fin. The side pods and airbox have also been reshaped compared to 2010. Technical Director Giorgio Ascanelli, once the race engineer of the late Ayrton Senna, is man who is responsible for many of the design features of the STR6. Asked about the changes in the regulations, Ascanelli replied: "The changes in the regulations are effectively in three categories: the first, improving safety as we normally do, second is to reduce down force in order to make an overtaking maneuver more easy and the third and most apparent thing is the return of KERS."
Ascanelli is, opposed to some of his colleagues, not afraid the new adjustable rear wing will make overtaking too easy. "This speed differential should allow about one and a half car lengths to be gained by the trailing car in such a way that overtaking becomes easier, but not too easy. Although I believe that the show we offered in 2010 has been a good one, I think we can look forward to 2011 producing something even better," the Italian explained. Ascanelli expects the rear wing will deliver a speed difference of about 10 km/h.
Many things have changed at Faenza, the team now has a more sophisticated CDF (Computational Fluid Dynamics) computer system, and as said also have a wind tunnel available in the UK. Toro Rosso also used a bit more of an aggressive approach regarding the design of the new car. The reason for this new approach is simple according to Ascanelli, "For this year, we have to aim for eighth place [in the Constructors' Championship], because that is our target and I didn't think that was possible if we had gone with some sort of conventional car. It's an ambitious way, if it doesn't work that will be my responsibility and I am going to take it."
Toro Rosso will use the client Ferrari 056 engine, and the Ferrari KERS system this season. Because Toro Rosso has no experience with KERS, the team's engineers and mechanics have followed a special Ferrari training program to learn about the technical and safety aspects of running the system.
Drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi
Toro Rosso retained their driver line-up and Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari and Swiss Sebastien Buemi will be at the wheel of the new STR6. Alguersuari will turn 21 just before the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, but already has gained plenty of experience in Formula One. Asked about the 2011 season he said: "I think it is definitely a key season for me this year. Every season is important and definitely this one is going to be very significant for myself, because it is my second full year in Formula One and because it is the second year that Toro Rosso builds its own car, so it will be completely decisive for our future."
Alguersuari believes the introduction of the new Pirellis will be the same for everyone, "That's another big question mark for everybody: the tyres. I think Pirelli tyres will work quite well, because we had a good experience in Abu Dhabi, the first test so far. We were quite happy with the performance of the tyres." He also doesn't expect any problems with KERS, "I think the KERS is not so difficult, because before the race weekend you can already study and understand the places where you can use it and how to use it during the race." And he isn't worried at all about the new rear wing, as it is the same for all drivers, and once used to it, he hopes it will improve the overtaking possibilities.
For Buemi it will be his third full season in the sport, and he is fully prepared for the 2011 season. Buemi still loves driving a Formula One car, "The best thing about Formula One is to drive the car, just to get in the car and go racing against all the other drivers. You race against the best drivers in the world, you race with the fastest cars in the world on the best and most beautiful circuits in the world, which makes everything fantastic."
Asked whether the KERS and adjustable rear wing will give him any problems, especially hitting the right buttons in the cockpit at the right time, he replied: "It could be a bit difficult, especially in the early stages at the first few races." And added, "It is not yet really clear how we will use the rear wing and the KERS as we are still awaiting a rule clarification."
And just like his Spanish colleague, Buemi believes the problems caused by the new regulations will be the same for all drivers, "It will take a bit of time to get used to it, but that will be the job of the drivers to be on top of it to the maximum by the start of the season. We will be trying to get up to speed during the winter tests to see what we can do and how we can improve it." And the new Pirelli tyres? "It will be important to understand them quickly, because this might make a big difference when you get to the first race. We will learn how they work in cold conditions with all the testing in Europe, but as soon as we get to Bahrain the four days of testing will be very important in terms of understanding their behavior in our qualifying and race simulations," the 22-year old driver commented.
The new season for Toro Rosso
Ascanelli is adamant his drivers are up to the job, "The drivers are young and enthusiastic, even if experience is not their forte. Sebastien is coming into his third season now and we are at the point where we can expect to get something back. Hopefully we are going to deliver a better car and hopefully they are going to improve in their job. And of course this will give us a better package for the future."
And Buemi's expectations? "I have big expectations to be honest, as I have quite a lot of experience now: I know all the circuits, I know how Formula One works and we also have quite a lot of experience in terms of building up the car. So, if all goes well and hopefully it will, we should be able to score many points and finish in the top eight of the Constructors' championship," a determined Buemi said today. Tost is also very positive ahead of the 2011 season, "The first hope is that we perform well, with a good, fast competitive car. Apart from that, we need the drivers and the team to do a good job and if all these components come together then I am convinced we can have a good season and close the gap to our direct competitors." And last, but not least he said: "I am looking forward to it because not racing during the winter time is a stupid loss of time!"