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Exclusive Q&A with Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost 15 May 2013

Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 13 October 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 (L to R): Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso; Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal, James Key (GBR) Scuderia Toro Rosso Technical Director, Luca Furbotta (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso Chief Designe and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8 Launch, Jerez, Spain, Monday, 4 February 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal and Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 23 September 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 10 May 2013 Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 10 May 2013 Dr Helmut Marko (AUT) Red Bull Motorsport Consultant and Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2

It’s been an up-and-down season so far for Toro Rosso, but after last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix brought encouraging results from a comprehensive update package to their STR9 car, team principal Franz Tost is confident they are on the right path. We spoke to Tost about their 2013 progress, the massive changes coming in 2014, and the likelihood of Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne landing a Red Bull seat…

Q: Franz, over winter you said that sixth in the constructors’ championship would be a result to your liking in 2013. After the start of the European campaign, how realistic is that?
Franz Tost:
If my memory serves me well I think I spoke about P6 or P7. In the current situation P5 is rather unlikely - as Force India is far too strong at the moment and, of course, Lotus is too strong - but finishing in P6, well that could be a final destination. In real life, here and now, I would say that we are closer to P7, but we will not give up fighting! And who says that you cannot dream over the winter? (laughs)

Q: What is needed - from the team and your drivers - for a better finish in the constructors’ championship?
FT:
We will arrive at almost every race this season with upgrades, which was not the case in 2012. And the good news is that all these new bits and parts do work, which is not always the case. Every team can tell you a thing or two about that! We came to Barcelona with an almost brand new car: we have a new engine cover, we have new sidepods, we have a new diffuser, a new floor, a new rear wing, a new exhaust system - and it looks like everything is working as we had expected. Sure, if you bring an almost new car you need a bit more time to implement everything, but we are pretty optimistic.

Q: How do you see the development of your two drivers? Both are in their second year with the team - and in true Toro Rosso tradition there will no doubt be a judgment day at the end of the season …
FT:
Ha, there is still some time to go until ‘judgment day’. What I can say now is that both are on schedule with their development. You can definitely see an upward curve at each race weekend with both drivers - and that is all that matters. Of course, with the performance level the technical understanding has to grow too - and that’s also working with both guys. So my gut feeling is that both will have a future in F1.

Q: It looks like Red Bull Racing may be in need of a second driver next year. Does the development curve of Jean-Eric and/or Daniel suggest that it could be one of them?
FT:
At the moment I would answer with a ‘yes and no’. Both would have to demonstrate an exceptionally good second half of the season, because don’t forget we are speaking about the world champions, so the requirement profile is quite different to being with a team like Toro Rosso. But don’t get me wrong, both are on a very good path and everything will depend on the next couple of months as to whether one of the two of them - should the need be there - qualify for Red Bull Racing.

Q: Who of the two would more likely qualify for a move up the ladder? And why?
FT:
Well, performance is all that matters and you definitely can see that Daniel with 11 races more under his belt - which is more than half of a season - is probably in a better situation. Right now he has the upper hand, which we have seen in Barcelona. But that is a snapshot right now. Generally I would say that both would fit into the Red Bull concept.

Q: How do you see all the driver dramas at Red Bull Racing? Does it have a peripheral impact on Toro Rosso?
FT:
It is normal driver rivalry at a team that is fighting for both championships. If you are fighting at the very edge you have to use your elbows - in every sport. Formula One is part of the entertainment industry and rivalry is part of the game. Fans not only want to see cars going in circles, but also the human factor - its fights and struggles.

Q: Can you outline how you think this season will develop with regards to 2014 car development?
FT:
I think all teams are faced with a huge challenge - both technically and economically. The 2014 car will mean a totally new Formula One. All technical philosophies of the here and now will be abandoned for something completely new. And to implement that brand new power unit into the car will be an interesting story for the engineers and will mean a completely new strategy. You have a turbo engine, the much stronger ERS system unleashing something around 160 horsepower and then you have the limited fuel injection. To optimally combine these three factors will be the key to success. That is the technical side.

The economic side is that 2014 will be much more expensive than 2013. We think that the costs for the power train will be 100 percent more that it is now. You have to swallow that in 2014. 2015 and 2016 will hopefully see a dramatic fall in expenses, but in 2014 you have to dig deep into your pocket. Of course, Formula One cannot stay still - we have to be innovative all the time - and the decision to go for turbo engines with an energy recovery system and less fuel need is the future. Sooner or later we had to make this move. What I worry about is whether we will see as tight a field as we have now and which has produced very interesting races. Now we have regulations that are very tight and so technical excesses are not possible. The second reason [for the tight field] is that the top drivers are placed at different teams: you have Vettel at Red Bull Racing, Alonso at Ferrari, Hamilton at Mercedes, Button at McLaren and Raikkonen at Lotus - five drivers who have won at least one championship at five different teams. In the past we have sometimes seen that the best drivers are at the best two or three teams and that meant that only two teams qualified for the titles. The third factor is the tyres that are the same for everyone - that was also not regularly the case in the past. All these three factors have made the races so exciting. Will that last in 2014? Big question mark. If one manufacturer lands a brilliant idea, then he will show it on the track and then it could happen that one or two teams are up and away. Then it is a question of how fast the other teams can catch up. But if an advantage is so deeply rooted in the power unit that you have first to find it and then study it before you can try to copy it, that can easily take months. So yes, 2014 will be massive.

Q: Finally, how satisfied were you with the Barcelona weekend? Was it a case of many small things coming together with Daniel’s one point?
FT:
Daniel drove a great race. Very mature. Jean-Eric was unlucky - in every phase of his race. But the team ended on the up, as our updates really seem to deliver. Now it will be interesting to see if they also do so in Monaco. Fingers crossed! (laughs)

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