Q&A with Toro Rossos Buemi and Alguersuari 01 Feb 2011
Toro Rosso field an unchanged driver line-up for 2011, and with significant regulation changes serving as a potential leveller, Switzerlands Sebastien Buemi and Spains Jaime Alguersuari are hoping the Italian team can break firmly into the midfield. As the new Toro Rosso STR6 was unveiled in the Valencia paddock on Tuesday, both men gave their thoughts on the year ahead
Q: Sebastien, this is your third full season in Formula One. Does that make it particularly significant for you?
Sebastien Buemi: I have big expectations to be honest, as I have quite a lot of experience now: I know all the circuits, I know how Formula One works and we also have quite a lot of experience in terms of building up the car. So, if all goes well and hopefully it will, we should be able to score many points and finish in the top eight of the Constructors championship.
Q: Whats the next step? What do you need to have a successful season?
SB: I think its a combination of many things. The first thing is that I have to give the maximum, getting the most out of myself and I need to have a good car, which is obvious as it is actually the same for all the drivers. The team is doing a good job to get everything working better than before and hopefully produce a quicker car. We switched the focus to the 2011 car pretty early in the season last year, so I have big hopes for the start of the season and how things will work out.
Q: Youre going to be very busy in the cockpit this year, with the adjustable rear wing and the KERS. Whats that going to be like?
SB: This season with all the rule changes, it could be a bit difficult, especially in the early stages at the first few races. It is not yet really clear how we will use the rear wing and the KERS as we are still awaiting a rule clarification. It will take a bit of time to get used to it, but that will be the job of the drivers to be on top of it to the maximum by the start of the season. We will be trying to get up to speed during the winter tests to see what we can do and how we can improve it.
Q: How do you prepare for 20 races?
SB: In terms of preparation it will be the same as ever. You always try to get the maximum out of yourself and out of the training. There are not many changes you can make to your programme, but it will be important to work out when to stay out in between races and when to come back home. For example with the back to back races, it will be important to make the right choice: will it be better to stay out to avoid the jet lag for example? Your training is always the same though, as you push hard in the winter to bring your level up and then you try to keep that level all season long. That means you need a good compromise between time when you relax and recover and when you train again hard.
Q: How important is stability within the team?
SB: Stability is a big point. When you get to a race weekend and you need to concentrate to get the maximum out of the whole crew, it is important to have stability, especially with my race engineer for example: I know him really well he knows me, so we can understand each other without talking. This is an important point because when you have to spend time working together in between the sessions you need to get to the point quickly and knowing one another really well can be an advantage.
Q: Will it be a help that Jaime will be more experienced?
SB: I think its really important to have a team mate that has experience because from a team point of view that makes a difference. We are only allowed to run one car per day during winter testing and if you can use all the days to get the car to go quicker and understand it better, then it makes a difference when you come to the first race. Me and Jaime do not have so much experience, but this is our third season and Im pretty sure we can extract the most out of the car.
Q: What about Pirelli tyres?
SB: We had two test days in Abu Dhabi at the end of the last championship and it will be important to understand them quickly, because this might make a big difference when you get to the first race. We will learn how they work in cold conditions with all the testing in Europe, but as soon as we get to Bahrain the four days of testing will be very important in terms of understanding their behaviour in our qualifying and race simulations.
Q: Jaime, what does the 2011 season mean to you?
Jaime Alguersuari: I think it is definitely a key season for me this year. Every season is important and definitely this one is going to be very significant for myself, because it is my second full year in Formula One and because it is the second year that Toro Rosso builds its own car, so it will be completely decisive for our future, for the future of Toro Rosso and for my future, because we obviously need to target our competitors which are Williams, Force India and Sauber. We need to fight against them and finish the championship ahead of them.
Q: With KERS and the adjustable rear wing, you are going to be very busy in the cockpit. How will you deal with all this new technology?
JA: I think 2011 rules are not tested yet so we will see how they work. It looks quite difficult to adapt to the KERS and the adjustable rear wing. We need to test it and see how it goes. I think the KERS is not so difficult, because before the race weekend you can already study and understand the places where you can use it and how to use it during the race. However, the rear wing Im not sure about. Its a question mark for everyone, for all the drivers. In 2010 we had the front wing, where we could feel quite a difference definitely on the car balance in the race and when you changed tyre compound and when you had big tyre degradation it was a big help. We will see how it goes with the rear wing because its a completely new thing for everyone.
Q: You had one day driving on Pirelli tyres in Abu Dhabi. What do you expect the change in tyre supplier will bring?
JA: Thats another big question mark for everybody - the tyres. I think Pirelli tyres will work quite well, because we had a good experience in Abu Dhabi, the first test so far. We were quite happy with the performance of the tyres. Bridgestone was a big reference for everyone, because they had a so much experience in Formula One. I dont really know how fast or slow we will be on the Pirellis compared to them, but, so far, the performance seems quite similar so we can expect more or less the same lap times in every place.
Q: Do you expect all these changes will make overtaking easier, which is what they are supposed to do?
JA: I think in Formula One you always look for overtaking performance and definitely last year, it was not easy to overtake. That has always been the case in Formula One: it is always difficult to overtake another car because as you know you brake very near to the actual corner. Even if one car has a speed advantage, it is never that easy, so I think in general we always look for overtaking performance. This year, it can be different with the KERS system and definitely with less downforce on the car, we should expect to have to brake a bit earlier and with the moveable rear wing all these kind of things will make overtaking easier.
Q: We face the longest season in F1 history. How can you prepare for that physically and mentally?
JA: I think in general what you need from the physical side is to be fit going into the start of the racing, because twenty Grands Prix is a long season with one more race in India so you are looking to have a good physical condition and stay cool between all the travel and the adventures we live around the world. It will not be easy and I expect it to be tough for all us drivers to maintain a rhythm on our travels, with so many places to go and with the jet lag and so on. But with the level of fitness among Formula One drivers it will not be a big deal.
Q: Stability - you have the same engineers, mechanics and team mate. A useful factor?
JA: Yes, of course, I think to stay with the same team, definitely the same engineers and with the same people and mechanics in the background in Faenza, knowing the whole team for one and a half years is quite important and definitely will help me a lot this season. I am really looking forward to the start of the year because they know what they can expect from my side and I know more or less what I can expect from my engineer and the people that work for me. So I expect a lot for this season from the car and on the development side.
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