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Interview with Toro Rosso's Franz Tost 09 Sep 2008

Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 19 June 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 7 September 2008 Toro Rosso mechanics.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 7 September 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 with front wing damage sustained at the start.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 7 September 2008 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 6 September 2008

Toro Rosso enjoyed an excellent weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, with both Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais qualifying in the top ten for the second consecutive race and finishing in the points. As a result, the Italian team have moved ahead of Honda in the constructors’ championship and have notched up the same tally of points (17) as veteran squad Williams. Here team principal Franz Tost explains the reasons behind Toro Rosso's ‘overnight success’ and looks ahead to this weekend’s Italian race…

Q: How do you explain the team’s recent good form?
Franz Tost:
The main elements are fairly straightforward to identify and we can start with the STR3 car itself. Red Bull Technology has provided us with a very competitive car and the group around Adrian Newey has done a great job. The second element is the engine, as Ferrari has provided us not only with an excellent power unit but also a good group of people to run it with us. We are very happy with our arrangement with Maranello, which indeed is why we have recently extended our supply agreement with them. The third element and the one that is perhaps most obvious from the outside, is our driver pairing. We are happy with both of them: Vettel’s performance and understanding of the demands of his job is increasing at an incredible rate, every time he gets in the car. He is still learning and improving race by race and as for Bourdais, after a difficult period, he too has stepped up a gear in the past few weeks, as could be seen from the fact that, until the very last lap in Belgium, he had out-performed his team mate. On top of this, the team itself, both on the track and in our Faenza factory, has progressed in terms of the way everyone works together. The engineering group, working around Giorgio Ascanelli is doing a tremendously good job. They have developed an excellent understanding of our car, even though we did not get to race it until the Monaco Grand Prix. Giorgio and his team are getting the most out of the package. Put all these elements together and you have the reason for our ‘overnight’ success!

Q: What can we expect this weekend in Monza?
Monza is a track that suits us very well, in terms of our chassis and engine package. At the test there the week before Belgium, we experimented with a new front suspension which seems to bring a performance improvement and in general terms, race tracks with fast corners play to our strengths. Additionally, in Monza, the long straights will be favourable to us, thanks to the power of our Ferrari engine. The car seemed to work well over the kerbs during the test, although we will need to tune our set-up a bit during free practice. It’s a delicate balance between softening the car to help it ride the kerbs, but not doing it too much, which upsets the aero balance in the quick corners. Put these elements together and I think we can approach this race with a degree of confidence.

Q: And it’s the team’s home race too…
Monza is our home race and the majority of our factory based staff will also attend the Grand Prix, which is a highlight of the year for them and, for the first time ever, the Mayor of Faenza will attend a Grand Prix as a guest of the team. On a personal level, coming to Monza is always special to me, as it was here, quite a long time ago now, that I saw my first ever Grand Prix. There is a special atmosphere here, in the morning when you come into the circuit through the Park, and see the smoke from the camping fires.

Q: And there’s an important appointment for the team in the week following this final Grand Prix in Europe?
After this race, we will head to Jerez for the final test of the season and at that time, we will run two new drivers, Sebastien Buemi who comes from the Red Bull driver pool and Takuma Sato, who raced for Super Aguri until the team pulled out of the sport. We are doing it to evaluate them for a possible seat for 2009, given that we know we will need to replace Vettel. Seb will be a hard act to follow, as he is a highly skilled driver and everyone at Red Bull is convinced he has a great future ahead of him.

Q: Finally, there are plenty of comments about the fact you are currently outperforming sister squad Red Bull Racing, supposedly the ‘senior’ team in the group. What do you say to that?
Look at the championship position and Red Bull Racing are fifth on 25 points and we are seventh on 17, so let’s keep everything in perspective. The situation can change very quickly in Formula One, so we have to keep our feet on the ground. Although we are part of the same family, from 2pm on Sunday, we are racing against one another, with both teams striving to get the best possible result for Red Bull. As neither of us has won a grand prix yet, there is still a long way to go.