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Exclusive Q&A - STR's Tost on Ricciardo, RBR & Russian rookies 17 Nov 2013

Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Nurburgring, Germany, Thursday, 4 July 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying, Austin, USA, Texas, Saturday, 16 November 2013 James Key (GBR) Scuderia Toro Rosso Technical Director in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013 Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8. Formula One Young Drivers Test, Silverstone, England, Day Three, Friday 19 July 2013 Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 (L to R): Daniil Kyvat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso and Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso and Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Austin, Texas, USA, Thursday, 14 November 2013

One of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s main functions is developing driver talent for senior sister team Red Bull Racing. And it looks like they have done it again in Daniel Ricciardo, who moves on to partner Sebastian Vettel - himself an STR graduate - in 2014. Will his replacement, Russian rookie and GP3 champion Daniil Kvyat prove as big a talent? Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost seems to think so. We caught up with him for an exclusive chat in Austin…

Q: Franz, you have seen what Sebastian Vettel can keep on doing. Aren’t you worried about Daniel’s future?
Franz Tost:
No, not at all. Daniel is a highly skilled driver who has quite some experience under his belt now so I am convinced that he can do a really good job alongside Sebastian. Of course, next year much will depend on how good the car is - but why should Red Bull not come up with a competitive car in 2104? If they don’t it would completely run against their history. I expect that next year we will see Sebastian and Daniel making up the front row of the grid.

Q: To go up against Sebastian you need a lot of self-confidence - and some pretty strong elbows. Does he have that?
FT:
I think when necessary Daniel can be pretty aggressive - especially in qualifying - and I am sure he can continue with that level of performance and will be able to match Sebastian’s times.

Q: Can he also take losing? Arguably this was a weak point for Mark Webber’
FT:
Well, he will be racing alongside a four-time champion - and nobody wins four titles without a reason - but Daniel is aware of that and he knows it. Much will also depend on his preparations over the winter - physically and mentally. But yes, Sebastian Vettel is a big obstacle!

Q: From the outside it looks like Toro Rosso have struggled more than their immediate competitors in getting the balance right between not giving up on the 2013 car too soon, but also focusing on the 2014 car sufficiently. Could that be so?
FT:
Unfortunately it is right. We have been suffering in the second half of the season compared to the first half. But two factors are responsible for that: the changes in tyres made us suffer a bit from the aero side. And, of course, the development of the 2014 car took a lot of resources. All this together made us suffer and meant us not scoring as many points as expected.

Q: When technical director James Key joined Toro Rosso there was definitely a raise in the performance, but lately that ‘Key effect’ has vanished somewhat. What explanation do you have for that?
FT:
I would not say it has vanished. James is doing a fantastic job. But as I just said, in the second half of the season the performance of the car was not as good as expected because of the two reasons just mentioned. But the ‘Key effect’ will come with next year’s car as this will one hundred percent be a ‘Key car’ and I am quite optimistic that we will be very competitive then.

Q: On top of the regulation changes for 2014, you will embark on a perhaps nerve-wracking adventure with Daniil Kvyat, the current GP3 champion. Was that a sound idea to sign him?
FT:
At Toro Rosso we like the ‘adventures’ with young drivers! (laughs) We have already worked with Daniil a couple of times. It started with the young drivers test at Silverstone where he managed good lap times, then we had an aero test in Vairano with him last week where he did 350 kilometres, and in Misano he did more than 400 kilometres without any mistakes, improving his lap times. And on Friday in Austin he did a good job - unfortunately cut short by the bad weather conditions. I am really looking forward to working together with him. I have a very positive feeling. He is a driver with a quite high natural speed.

Q: Is it fair to him to throw him in at the deep end? A driver’s reputation is a fragile commodity’
FT:
You never know when a driver shows his highest potential. For Red Bull the main reason for choosing Daniil was simply the fantastic performance he has shown during this year. If you look at the GP3 races, at how powerfully he caught up and how exciting his victories were, this was really fantastic and won him the championship on his own merit. This is even more amazing as he came into GP3 without much preparation and almost immediately put his car on pole position and started to win races. As I said, he has a high natural speed - and I like to work on this basis. It will take time, of course. He’s got the chance now and he has to take it now. It is not every year that you get a seat in F1 offered to you - and when you do you must take it. It’s the same with Daniel Ricciardo with Red Bull. It is never a question of when you are ready - you’d better be ready when the chance comes!

Q: That will also mean a completely new role for Jean-Eric Vergne, as team leader. What do you expect from him then?
FT:
That he scores many points. That we provide him with a good car and that in his third season with us he can show that he is there for a reason. He has to lead the team - in setting up the car and finding the best technical solutions. It should be a very interesting job for him and we will see if he can do it or not.

Q: It’s a common belief that Toro Rosso are one of the financially ‘safe’ teams - is that so?
FT:
Fortunately because of Red Bull and our other partners like Cepsa, Nova Chemicals and Falcon Bank, we are financially on the safe side - and I hope this will be the case in the future.

Q: Coming to the 2014 car: what’s the state of affairs there?
FT:
The cars are different. Some parts are uglier as it is a bit plumper on the mid section because of the many radiators you need to cool the turbo engine. Our first monocoque is finished now and we will have a private crash test next week and then the FIA tests are in December. So everything is on schedule for our fire-up in the middle of January - and then we go testing. So far so good! It will be a difficult task next season to find a sufficient combination between the engine, the fuel consumption and the aero system - when do you use what, and how much? It could be that races will be decided on the last lap. So races will be different but also exciting - as long as one team doesn’t get it ‘righter’ than the others, because then they will be up and gone and the rest will play catch-up the whole season long.

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