No longer the rookie, American hoping for bigger things
As he tests in Malaysia this week, Toro Rossos Scott Speed is optimistic that new parts will enhance the performance of the STR2 - and his chance of scoring points in 2007. But after the disappointment of retirement in Melbourne, Speed is keeping a firm lid on expectations - as he explains exclusively to Formula1.com, just five points would make him a happy man
Q: Last year you were happy just to be in Formula One racing - the first American driver in years. This year presumably youll be looking for more?
Scott Speed: Well, goals in Formula One are always changing as the competitiveness of the car changes. At the moment, as a team, we are hoping to be in the points a few times this year. If I came away with something like five points at the end of the year I would be very happy, but it is dependent on such a lot of things
Q: You were the last 2007 driver to be confirmed - to what degree was your position at risk and what finally swung the pendulum in your favour?
SS: I was never worried about my seat because I knew I had a contract to drive. Even if uncertainty didnt help I worked very hard over the winter. Everything is fine now and we are all pushing forward.
Q: Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has predicted the team will be towards the rear of the grid for the first couple of races due to limited testing. Nevertheless, had you hoped for something more in Melbourne?
SS: For sure we hoped until qualifying that we would have had a good performance regardless of the lack of testing, but after Q1 we realized fully the effects the lack of testing had had.
Q: Toro Rosso pushed quite strongly in 2006 with the Cosworth and Michelin package. What are the biggest issues you face with the new Ferrari and Bridgestone combination?
SS: I think that the engine and tyres are not our problems - they are not part of the package that is missing performance. Maybe we can learn a bit more of the tyres here in Sepang, but the main problems lie elsewhere. We are doing now what we should have done during the pre-season tests... nothing more. The car has already shown good potential... it's now up to us to translate it into results.
Q: Testing in Sepang is something new and gives Toro Rosso some much-needed test mileage. What are you concentrating on? Melbourne gave the impression that the STR2 is perhaps not the easiest car to drive...
SS: The test here is quite important and we will probably make a big step forward. We are adding a few parts and most importantly getting a feel for our car to try and make it easier to drive and less on the edge. And it is already easier after one day. I will add more mileage Wednesday morning, then Tonio (Liuzzi) will take over for the remaining time. Then we will see what the race brings.
Q: Last season Toro Rosso were at times ahead of Red Bull Racing - the junior team making the pace! How likely are we to see that this year?
SS: At the beginning of the year it will be quite difficult for us to compete with Red Bull Racing, but as the season gets further along I think we will have a good chance against the veterans.
Q: This year the Red Bull stable has two veterans and two youngsters under one roof. Will it be a learning period for you, or flat-out competition? How is the mood in the Energy Station right now?
SS: For sure it will be flat-out competition and I don't see any reason why they should be faster than us. On track we will fight against them, as much as against all the others. In the Energy Station? We cohabit well together.