Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost thinks a top five finish in Formula 1 is on the cards for his team this year, despite its late switch to 2015 Ferrari engines.
The Faenza-based outfit had targeted a similar result last year, but its hopes were dashed by reliability problems with then-engine partner Renault.
But with optimism that its aerodynamic strengths should carry through to its STR11, and be helped by a power uplift from year old Ferrari power units, Tost has high hopes of a better result this time out.
“This season the target is as well the top five,” said Tost, speaking during the opening of his team's new factory at Faenza in Italy.
“Last year we couldn't achieve it because we simply missed the reliability that you need to achieve this goal. We had 12 non-finishes: two were caused by drivers but the rest were by the team.
“I hope this year we will see the chequered flag at all the races, and if this is the case then I am convinced that the team is in the position to finish in the top five.”
Although Toro Rosso has been locked in a race against time to get its car ready for the first pre-season test, Tost says that quality has not suffered.
“I think the new car, the STR11, is a competitive car,” he explained. “All the data from the aerodynamic side shows quite good results
“Also, we are together with Ferrari, which will help us improve the performance for sure. Plus we have two highly talented drivers who showed good performance last year.
“They are experienced now, as it is their second season. They know all the race tracks, they know how the teams work and they know their life in F1, therefore, I expect also from their side, a real good performance.”
Red Bull not the target
For Toro Rosso's technical director James Key insists where it ends up against Red Bull is not the main issue: because it has bigger fights to worry about.
“I don't know where people are going to be in 2016. It is the third year of regulations, and people may be looking to push boundaries in terms of chassis design in certain areas.
“It is difficult to tell how much more there is to come with power units, but I suspect quite a lot.
"We know there is more to come from our previous engine partners [Renault] than from Mercedes and Ferrari who are at the top, so it will be interesting to see where they are.
“But we are not concentrating on one team. We are concentrating on ourselves.”
Interview by Franco Nugnes