Interview with STR's Franz Tost 20 Dec 2005
Being Austrian was always a good reference for a start in Formula One racing - ever since the day Bernie Ecclestone ran into a young driver by the name of Jochen Rindt, some 40 odd years ago. But now, after an impressive first season for Red Bull and the announcement in November confirming the energy-drink giants official takeover of Minardi, it seems inevitable that Austrians will play an even more significant role in the sport. Among them is Scuderia Toro Rosso's new team principal, Franz Tost:
Q: When news broke in Spa that Red Bull had acquired Minardi it was quite a surprise. It is the first time that a company like Red Bull has owned two Formula One teams. Can you speak about the motivation behind the acquisition?
Franz Tost: The main motivation for Red Bull to buy a second team can be explained easily. Red Bull had too many very skilled drivers, but only three seats available in their own team to bring drivers into Formula One. To prove their talent, Red Bull had to buy seats in different teams. All things considered, this cost a lot of money by being just a customer. As and when the possibility to buy Minardi arose, Mr Mateschitz took it. This gives Red Bull the chance to now run six official drivers.
Competing with two teams and six drivers will open new spheres for the Red Bull marketing department. As we know, they always come up with very special ideas. Lets wait and see...
Q: The other thing that surprised some was the team's name. At first glance, Scuderia Toro Rosso does not sit easily with Red Bulls young driver program in the US. So why that name? Or has the focus changed?
FT: Toro Rosso is the Italian translation of Red Bull, and Scuderia is the translation of race team. An Italian name for a team based in Italy.
Q: It will be quite a task to breathe life into a team that had operated under the sporting principles that say that to be there is everything. What immediate provisions can the team implement that will have an effect at the start of the 2006 season? And what will be medium and long term aims and ambitions for the team?
FT: In this team there are a lot of capable and highly motivated people who are eager to take this opportunity and achieve a successful future. In the short term we are pushing very hard to finish the STR 01 in time. We will do an extensive test programme, which is something new for the team. In the mid-term we have to form a team which cooperates well and we have to build up an infrastructure with everything the team needs to operate in a successful way. Needless to say the long term objective is to become a front runner team.
Q: Will Scuderia Toro Rosso be the junior team of Red Bull or is it a level playing field in terms of financial resources?
FT: Currently it is the junior team, with Tonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed and Neel Jani. All of them are highly rated drivers.
Q: How closely will the two Red Bull teams work together? Will there also be an Adrian Newey effect at STR?
FT: Under the current regulations the teams cannot work together as closely as it could be. Red Bull Racing will run the new RBR 02 and the V8 Ferrari engine, while Toro Rosso will have the new STR 01 with the V10 Cosworth engine incorporating different torque curves from the engine side and with a different weight distribution, which will make it difficult to compare cars or data. Because of these differences the teams will operate independently and in their own separate way during the race weekends. We are all looking forward to seeing Adrian Newey starting at Red Bull. It would be a great pity not to ask him for advice with all his experience.
Q: There are rumours that the team could close its Faenza base and move its headquarters to the former A1 ring - any truth in that?
FT: As I was saying, in Faenza there are many highly qualified employees with a lot of experience of competing in Formula One. You cant find these kind of specialized people in the short term in Austria. Toro Rosso will improve the facilities because we are committed to having a long term future in Italy.
Q: You are the new kid on the block. What's your initial strategy? Listen and learn or try to make your presence felt?
FT: The strategy will be to build up a well organised team, with everybody being happy to be part of it and to fight in order to become successful with Toro Rosso.
Q: Each team has a team culture. What will your team culture be?
FT: Toro Rosso will be the expression of youth, energy, dynamism and aggressiveness. This spirit will encompass bringing new talented drivers into Formula One.