Exclusive Franz Tost Q&A: 2009 a new challenge for Toro Rosso 10 Dec 2008
Toro Rossos 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 Rossos (STRs) 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 years 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 youve been testing Sebastien Buemi, Takuma Sato, and this years 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.