Exclusive Franz Tost Q&A: Toro Rosso must push harder 25 Mar 2010
The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was not a happy race for Toro Rosso. Although team principal Franz Tost was happy with the progress of Spanish youngster Jaime Alguersuari, he was annoyed a hydraulic problem on Friday all but ruined Sebastien Buemis weekend. Here Tost reviews the Sakhir race, evaluates the impact of the ban on refuelling and looks ahead to a better result in Melbourne
Q: Franz, how would you sum up the Bahrain race for Toro Rosso?
Franz Tost: Not very successful. Jaime Alguersuari did a good job, because he was there for the first time and he finished the race. He had the chance to get used to the track and got himself some experience. Many forget that until Budapest all the tracks are new for Jaime, so I must say he did a good job in Bahrain. We are here to develop talent - that is why (Red Bull boss) Dietrich Mateschitz made us form this team - and I think we are on the right track to deliver. With Sebastien Buemi we had a problem on Friday with the hydraulics. He therefore couldnt run in the afternoon session and lost a lot of time setting up the car, and that was the reason why we struggled all weekend long. I personally think that if the car had been set up properly, then Sebastien would have had a much better performance. So I do expect much more here in Melbourne.
Q: People seem to think Toro Rosso can enjoy good results this year, maybe finishing between P5 and P8. Was Bahrain just a one-off?
FT: That is not realistic, because there are four top teams - Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull - in front of us. Apart from that there is (Force Indias) Adrian Sutil, who is performing very well in a very fast car, and also Robert Kubica with a very improved Renault. This means that we wont normally be in the top seven or eight cars. If we are in ninth or 10th, I would be happy. This is realistic - the rest, we will see.
Q: What do the three new teams mean for a team like Toro Rosso?
FT: To step into Formula One as a new team is very difficult these days because the level is extremely high. And the reason for that is that the manufacturers that have been involved have invested huge budgets to set up their infrastructures, which makes it very difficult for new teams to close this gap. What they need is time - a minimum of two to three years, if they get budgets allocated to invest into an infrastructure like the top teams have in place. We simply must perform well, and I am convinced that we will improve, and that Sebastien Buemi in particular will be able to enjoy some very good races.
Q: After Bahrain some people labelled the race eventless. What can the teams do to breathe more excitement into a Sunday afternoon?
FT: First of all for me it was not a boring race. The first three cars were within four seconds of each other, and then Sebastian Vettel had a technical problem which resulted in him being overtaken by other cars and created exciting moments. Also there were quite a few overtaking manoeuvres in the middle and back of the field. I have seen many more eventless races in the past than that one in Bahrain. I dont know what peoples expectations were. Just because Michael Schumachers come back, the cars will not suddenly flip over or do other spectacular things. For me the Bahrain race was neither bad, nor boring.
Q: Are the effects of the ban on refuelling punishing the strategy-strong teams?
FT: In this respect this you could be right, as in the past we have been able to gain some places during the race with special strategies. This has changed now, so we have to find another way within the new regulations to perform well. Bahrain was just the first race and I am convinced that it wont just be our engineers who come up with new ideas. Last year pit stops didnt just depend on refuelling; they were also tied to how tyre degradation is influencing the race. Should this degradation be very high, then teams might have to do two pit stops. In Bahrain it was okay, so we were able to finish with one pit stop.
Q: There is one slot vacant on the grid. There is a team ready to fill it, but is not allowed to enter because a team that proved incapable holds the slot. What is your stance on that?
FT: My opinion does not count, as the Concorde Agreement defines when a team is not allowed to attend a race. There are some special issues which the FIA and the commercial rights holder have to decide on together. This is not the case at the moment, so I do not expect a 13th team to enter this season.
Q: Dietrich Mateschitz has said his target for Red Bull Racing this season is the title. What is the target for Toro Rosso?
FT: We simply have to be in front of the newcomers, and we have to give our drivers the best possible car and to educate them in the best possible way. Other than that, there is my goal, and that is to finish eighth in the constructors championship.
Q: What do you need to do to walk away from this Sundays race with happier faces?
FT: There can be only one and that is to push harder and finish better.