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Exclusive Franz Tost Q&A: 2009 a new challenge for Toro Rosso 10 Dec 2008

Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 10 May 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 December 2008. (L to R) Toro Rosso team bosses Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrates victory with Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal and Dietrich Mateschitz (AUT) CEO and Founder of Red Bull.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 14 September 2008 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso with Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008

Toro Rosso’s team principal Franz Tost is a man of understatement. Describing their 2008 success as ‘limited’ shows that his ambition stretches far beyond a single Grand Prix win. With 2009 comes major change - new regulations, the loss of wunderkind Sebastian Vettel, and the departure of Gerhard Berger returning the team to full Red Bull ownership. So what does Tost believe the future really holds?

Q: What exactly will Scuderia Toro Rosso’s (STR’s) role be in the Red Bull family? Once more the fully-fledged junior team?
FT:
Our role does not change. We are a Formula One team, competing against the other Red Bull team and all the other teams on Sunday afternoon.

Q: You demonstrated this year that a private team with a reasonable budget can be successful when the chemistry works and everybody pulls together. Is STR the future of Formula One racing?
FT:
We had limited success in 2008, producing some good performances and taking one Grand Prix win. However, although everyone in the sport agrees that costs should be reduced, the bigger, more established, best-funded teams will always have an advantage.

Q: There is no end of cost-cutting ideas doing the rounds at the moment, but you have already achieved success with a ‘sensible’ budget. What is the secret - what really works?
FT:
Again, I would emphasize that we had limited success, but this must be put in perspective against all the teams that did much better than us, winning more races and the championships. There is no ‘secret formula’. We received a good budget from Red Bull, we ran a good chassis, we raced one of the best engines and the team is cooperating ever more closely. We also had a very talented young driver, who improved and learned throughout the year. What works? Hard work with the right resources.

Q: Gerhard Berger has decided to step back and has said he believes with the situation as it is it will be tough for the team to repeat its 2008 success next season. What is your opinion?
FT:
Every year all teams start the first race of the season with zero points, so every season is a new challenge. Of course, our general performance last year is good for team spirit and we will be hoping to do better in ’09, but so will all the other teams, even the ones who won the championships. Next year’s performance is even harder to predict as we are all racing under a set of rules that includes many new and unknown elements.

Q: STR have not announced their 2009 driver line-up. Recently you’ve been testing Sebastien Buemi, Takuma Sato, and this year’s STR driver Sebastien Bourdais. Is there a deadline for a decision?
FT:
The deadline is Thursday in Melbourne! But seriously, we will announce our decision when we are ready to do so. There is no specific date set.

Q: You had a sensational year. In fact, it was arguably the most stunning success story of the 2008 season. What lessons will you carry with you into 2009?
FT:
I would not call it a ‘sensational’ year. It was a good year. We learnt many useful lessons regarding how we operate as a team and we are continually trying to improve in all areas of our activity.