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Interview with Toro Rosso's Giorgio Ascanelli 20 May 2008

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 Formula One Testing, Day One, Paul Ricard, France, 14 May 2008. World ©  Bumstead/Sutton
Giorgio Ascanelli (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso Technical Director.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR02 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Paul Ricard, France, 15 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Detail of Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Paul Ricard, France, 16 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton 
Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) shakes down the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 for the first time. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 15 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton

As Toro Rosso prepare the STR3 for its race debut at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, the Italian squad’s technical director Giorgio Ascanelli discusses why he is unafraid of running the new car at the notoriously difficult Monte Carlo event and reveals his expectations for the race…

Q: What improvement in terms of performance can we expect from STR3 over STR2?
Giorgio Ascanelli:
I don’t like to be dragged into talking numbers, but the car will be similar to the Red Bull car at the start of the season so hopefully somewhere between three tenths and half a second quicker than our old car around Monaco.

Q: Why will it only be the same as the Red Bull car in its launch specification and not identical to the one that team is using now?
To start with, the two cars can never be identical as we have different engine suppliers. The car is late because we were unable to have all the parts we wanted and the main aerodynamic updates are not available to use this weekend.

Q: Has the fact you have a different engine supplier to your sister team further complicated matters?
The areas where we might have run into some problems and the recent Paul Ricard test highlighted these, is indeed in terms of engine installation, but they are not down to Ferrari. It is down to us. Both ours and their engines are V8s but the similarities stop there! The engine environment is completely different and of course, we would have liked longer tests with all the systems. But I am happy with what we have achieved so far. Of course, this is an area where we are stepping into the unknown because we have had limited testing mileage.

Q: Are you brave or mad to run a new car at such a unique track as Monaco?
I am both brave and mad as everyone knows! Introducing a new car in Monaco, especially when the weather forecast is for rain is putting at risk our spares availability. Nevertheless, there are reasons that lead us to bring two new cars here. Firstly, delaying it’s debut by one more race would mean less running and less experience with the car and the crucial learning curve would be further delayed which is not a good thing. Secondly, Monte Carlo would have been a step too far for the old car and the specific demands of this circuit mean we would have been badly prepared to tackle it with the STR2B, which was last year’s car with different gearbox, bodywork and wings and we had not planned to race it here. Monaco preparation would have been poor with the old car as it was never planned to run it here.

Q: How difficult will it be for engineers and mechanics to work on a brand new car in the high-pressure environment of Monaco?
I don’t think it’s a problem for the engineers, but it will be tougher for the drivers and mechanics. Monaco is a difficult place to work at the best of times and even with the old car in the last race in Istanbul, we had some problems with our pit stop management, so now just to make life even tougher, we have to do it with different wheels, different wheel nuts and guns, different fuel adapters and many systems that will need careful attention. As for car preparation, I think we are in reasonable shape. The Ricard test helped us quite a bit with a large turnout of personnel, meaning that pretty much the entire team has had the opportunity to work on the new car, so we should be pretty well prepared. If Monaco has disadvantages, there are also advantages, because for example, on Friday there is no running, which means you have all of Friday to fully check the car and make progress in terms of getting acquainted with it.