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Franz Tost Q&A: Toro Rosso need engine decision fast

09 Oct 2015

Much of the talk in the Sochi paddock has centred on engines - and more specifically on which power units Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso will end up using in 2016. At the moment, Ferrari seems the most likely supplier for both squads - and Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost would even be willing to accept year-old engines if it secured their place on the grid. Though as the Austrian explains in this exclusive interview, a decision - quick or otherwise - is ultimately out of his hands…

Q: Franz, what is the situation at Toro Rosso? Right now you have no engine in the back of your car for 2016, which makes racing rather difficult…

Franz Tost: Ha, I hope that it will not be the case that we have no engine in the back of our car in 2016. I am quite optimistic that we will have a solution for next season and that we will be on the starting grid in Melbourne - with an engine in the back…

Q: Do you have any idea what kind of engine?

FT: We are negotiating with Ferrari, but have not signed a contract up until this very moment.

Q: Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz is quoted as saying that retiring both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso from F1 racing could be an option. Why both?

FT: If Dietrich Mateschitz decides to stop Formula One because of various reasons then the lights go out in both facilities.

Q: Why is Toro Rosso only thought of as the junior team to Red Bull Racing - and not as an individual entity? Surely it has completely different needs to Red Bull Racing…

FT: In the end it is a decision by Red Bull and Mr Mateschitz - and whatever reasons he will take into consideration Toro Rosso has to accept. I personally hope for the team and all the employees that we will still be here next year.

Q: When will there be a decision? Time is running out with having to build a new car, whatever the engine - especially with testing being brought forward by two weeks…

FT: Indeed the new schedule that brings forward the first race to mid-March - and testing to the last week of February and first week of March - could bring us into troubles. We need a decision very soon. I don’t want to talk about a deadline, but the earlier we get a decision the bigger the chances of being ready in time for the tests - or at least for the first race in Australia.

Q: Lately both teams - Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso - have been late in getting their car ready for the season and effectively used the opening races as test runs. Isn’t that annoying if it happens over and over again?

FT: Of course you want to be prepared in the best possible way - so that when you test you really do test. The last few years it was always difficult - especially 2014 - because of problems with our partners. Although this year was not too bad - we did quite a lot of mileage in winter. Now for 2016 everything will depend on when a decision will be made.

Q: It is understood that Ferrari only want to supply the 2015-spec engine next season. This is something perhaps unacceptable for Red Bull Racing, but could it be an option for Toro Rosso?

FT: Toro Rosso would accept the 2015 engine, as we think it would be a step forward for us. But yes, Toro Rosso is in a different situation than Red Bull Racing. Their DNA is to fight for wins and championships and therefore they want the same material Ferrari will run in 2016.

Q: So could the future of both teams hinge on whether Red Bull Racing gets the 2016 Ferrari engine or not?

FT: No, that is not so. Ferrari is not the final decision maker - that is Mr Mateschitz. So we have to wait to see what he will come up with.

Q: But with a 2015-spec engine Red Bull Racing are unlikely to see podiums and wins - so why bother racing?

FT: Yes, the performance of the team is absolutely decisive.

Q: It looks pretty certain that neither Red Bull team will reach their goal for 2015: third for Red Bull Racing and fifth for Toro Rosso. Could that be the last piece in the decision process?

FT: Who says that this is already the final word in the results? We still have five races to go! Yes, we are behind, but as long as it is mathematically possible we will be fighting for it. And if we haven’t reached our goal then we have to ask ourselves why. We had 10 DNFs! The drivers caused two of them, three were failures from Toro Rosso’s side and five were caused by ‘other’ parts of the car. If you have such a high drop-out rate it of course shows in the standings. It is extra bitter as we had been in the points at most races when we retired. Having taken these facts under consideration we have made the decision to change something. As for the rest, we will see.