Tost confident Toro Rosso will close gap to midfield 21 Feb 2008
With their new car not expected to debut until April, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost could be forgiven for feeling a little uncertain about his squads prospects for 2008. Tost, however, believes strong performances in the last few races of 2007 and the teams continued progress over the winter stand them in good stead for the season ahead.
From the middle of 2007 onwards, Toro Rosso has moved forward, Tost told the teams official website. So far, we have had a good winter preparation, doing a lot of test mileage. We will start the new season with STR2B, last years car with some modifications, mainly to comply with the new regulations.
We expect a high level of reliability in the first four races which will be a key to being successful in this period. Red Bull expects Toro Rosso to improve this year on our seventh place finish in the 2007 championship. Step by step, we want to close the gap to the mid-field teams.
For 2008, the Italian squad will once again field German youngster Sebastian Vettel, who clinched a career-best fourth place at last years Chinese Grand Prix, and new-signing Sebastien Bourdais, who won his fourth Champ Car title last year in the US. Tost is optimistic that Vettel and Bourdais are the right combination to fulfill the teams aspirations.
They are two highly skilled drivers and we expect really good results from them, he said. Sebastien has done a good job. He has to get used to the rhythm of an F1 race weekend and the first few Grands Prix will not be so easy for him, but I expect he will be a front runner from the fifth or sixth race onwards.
As for Vettel, we know him already and in a short period of time, he has become a real part of the team. Both drivers have a good relationship with the team and I hope this will translate into race results.
In addition to the teams interim car and their revitalised driver line-up, Tost believes that changes back at the Italian factory in Faenza, especially within the technical department, are another just cause for optimism.
Last year we increased the size of the team and it takes time for a group to work efficiently, said Tost. But, having worked hard in all areas, especially over the winter, people came closer together and got an understanding of our targets and what it takes to be successful: namely to communicate well, to be disciplined, to work hard and to be on top of ones game all the time. This has created a great atmosphere.
Toro Rosso will be back in action at Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya next week for a three-day test from February 25-27.