Toro Rosso aim high with heavily revised STR8

2013 F1 season

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Toro Rosso have set themselves a challenging target with the STR8. Having finished ninth in the constructors’ championship last year, team principal Franz Tost says this year’s target is sixth.

The team benefit from having stability in their driver line-up. Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will have to prove they deserve to remain part of Red Bull’s driver programme.

“Naturally, we will be expecting more from them this year as they both tackle their second full season of Formula 1,” says team principal Franz Tost.

“However, we are well aware it is up to us to provide them with a car that’s capable of allowing them to show their undoubted talent.”

To that end the STR8 is a new machine from the ground up. The only part retained from last year’s car is the steering wheel.

Immediate problems with the STR7

The 2013 car is the product of chief designer Luca Furbatto, who joined the team in December 2011, and James Key, who took over as technical director from Giorgio Ascanelli in September.

Furbatto says the team identified an immediate problem with the STR7 during pre-season testing last year:

“It was clear from the start that we had some issues with the weight distribution of the car and we were not able to effectively cover the entire weight distribution range, as controlled by the FIA regulations. This therefore became a point we wanted to rectify with STR8.”

Furbatto also wanted to make sure the team were pushing the rules as far as they could: “Another fact to emerge from initial testing, was that the car appeared to be more compliant in terms of laptime sensitive compliances, when compared to other cars I have worked on and that was another point we wanted to rectify with this year’s car.

The third major change is at the car’s rear: “A further key point was that I wanted to create a platform for aerodynamic development of the car.

“The rear end of the STR7 was effectively derived from the previous model, the STR6 and I felt the rear could be made much slimmer and more compact and that was another area we focussed on in designing STR8.”

Furbatto believes the team had reached the limit of what was possible with the sidepod design philosophy introduced in the 2011 STR6:

“Development was rather limited in 2012 and this was because the STR7’s distinctive sidepod design, although initially looking quite good, later proved difficult to develop, so that we reached a plateau during the season.

“We therefore decided in early August to go down another route and at the same time took the opportunity to change the cooling layout of the car and so, on STR8 the radiators are much lower. This also allows us to drop the deck of the sidepods more aggressively.

“These changes mean the car actually looks quite conventional, while still retaining some of the features of STR7, because even if it is a new concept, it is an evolution based on the current regulations.”

Focusing on aerodynamics

The team already have plans for how this area of the car will be upgraded: “We are also planning an aggressive development programme for the first part of the season, based around a very narrow rear end and low exhausts,” says Furbatto.

They have also tackled the weight distribution problems that plagued them in 2012: “We believe that thanks to the architectural shape of STR8, we should be able to explore all the opportunities within the weight distribution range allowed in the rules.

“Initial indications on suspension compliance are encouraging and in terms of aero development, we are in better shape than at the end of last season and another positive step is that the rate of development is increasing, indicating there is further potential to move forward in terms of downforce.”

New technical director Key arrives at the team from Sauber. Although he has not yet been with them for six months, he is already bringing his focus on improving aerodynamic performance to bear on the Faenza-based team:

“A big part of this has been to improve communications between the aero group in the UK and the design and manufacturing in Italy. In addition we are trying to ensure maximum aero development time with a quick turnaround of design and manufacturing periods.

“That is fundamental to what we do: a front wing will take the same amount of time to design and build for a given cost, but it could be worth one tenth of a second or four tenths of a second.

“It’s those four tenths that count, so if you squeeze the timing here in Faenza and allow more time on development side, then ultimately it should result in a better performance in the longer term.

“Although there was already an awareness of that, it’s been a case of pushing that idea a bit more, tightening the deadlines and stressing the fact we must give as much time as possible to aero. With the CFD department based in Faenza, trying to ensure that the communications are as slick as they can be is also an important priority.”

Tost has set his team a stretching target. Last year the team found itself on the wrong end of a very closely-matched midfield. If it can turn that around that sixth place could prove achievable.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Toro Rosso aim high with heavily revised STR8”

  1. Great to hear a bit more in detail about the thinking behind those evolutions.

  2. “Naturally, we will be expecting more from them this year as they both tackle their second full season of Formula 1,” says team principal Franz Tost.

    Whichh means taht naturally one of them will be given the elbow mid-season…

    1. I shouldn’t type these comments up at work! :p

    2. one of them will be given the elbow mid-season…

      Lots of people said the same last year. Didn’t happen. Won’t happen this year.

  3. Good Luck to them! I admire their ambition and the car certainly looks great, hope they can embarass a few big teams this season.

  4. Well this is all very positive and ambitious of them. It also makes a bit of a mockery of Ted Kravitz’s notebook programme that said the STR was basically the same as last year apart from one change (the identity of which escapes me at the mo’).

    I’m not convinced by their driver line-up so I still think that’s an area that limits them climbing the grid, but the stability will help them. It would be nice to have another team competitive in the midfield battle where the ‘best of the rest’ badge seems to change ownership from race to race.

  5. I can’t help but wonder what is the point of Toro Rosso? If you’d asked ‘what is your purpose in F1’ 10 of the 11 teams would say ‘win championships’ apart from Toro Rosso who’s only real purpose is to develop young drivers. Surely that’s something that should be done in feeder series and not in the pinnacle of open wheel racing. Not to mention they haven’t been particularly successful. Bar Vettel, they haven’t really brought any new drivers that could possibly challenge at the top (granted that’s likely due to them having only a season and 1/2 at most before being fired). Not to mention the fact that Red Bull probably have a sizeable influence on their drivers amongst other things which essential means they’re running 4 cars.

    I’m all for more teams but when they lack ambition and their only purpose is to essentially serve as another step into the F1 ladder it does seem a bit pointless. I don’t blame Red Bull for this though, the lack of in-season testing is clearly hindering new drivers but I does seem a tad bit unfair that they essentially have 4 cars racing for them. Personally, I don’t see why they just don’t buy one of their development drivers a seat at Caterham or Marussia.

    But who am I to judge? :)

    1. ar Vettel, they haven’t really brought any new drivers that could possibly challenge at the top

      I disagree completely.
      Put Ricciardo in the Bull and I’ll wager he gives Vettel a thumping!
      Young driver test 2010 – In the Bull Ricciardo was 1.3 seconds quicker than Vettel’s pole time.

      1. @nick101 – Yes, as I told you, he set a fast time when the track was rubbered in and in daylight. Let’s see him actually outscore the likes of Vergne first.

      2. @nick101
        I don’t think you can read too much into the times he set at the young driver test. It was a fast time, but by the time he set those laps, a lot of laps had been driven on that track and a lot of rubber had been put down. The track conditions were completely different because of it than during race day. D’ambrosio and Sam Bird also set faster times than Vettel’s pole time.

    2. if you’d asked ‘what is your purpose in F1′ 10 of the 11 teams would say ‘win championships’ apart from Toro Rosso

      That’s just not right. Force India have said they are aiming for fifth, Lotus have said third, Sauber have talked of “improvement” rather than identifying a place, Marussia talk of beating Caterham, Caterham talk of joining the midfield, and so on. In fact, only 3 or 4 teams target winning the world championship, because only they have the resources to do so.

      I’m all for more teams but when they lack ambition

      Sixth place, for a team with STR’s resources, is ambitious.

      Have a look at the team reaction in the garage when one of their car overtakes another, or has a good points finish at the end, and tell me those people don’t care about how where the car finishes. To suggest otherwise is unfair to the hundreds of people who work for the team.

      1. That’s a wrong assumption. Yes FI and others are “currently” aiming for maybe just one better place or simply getting a point and so on depending on where they are and how much they think they could improve but that is just a “current” target based on realistic prospects.
        They would like to be first but they don’t see it possible at the moment so they put certain “current” targets. But the fact is that their ambition is to be world champions.
        They want to win the world championship at some point and if it was possible they would be happy to get it right away.
        Toro Rosso though does not have such ambition cause they ain’t there to win but just to be a young drivers testing team. They have only short term goals like being sixth that will allow them to have a fast enough car to meddle with others so it can give them a better measure of the capabilities of their young drivers. There is no ambition, no anything.

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