Toro Rosso technical director James Key predicts Toro Rosso will make a breakthrough this year following their switch back to Renault power.
The team ran year-old Ferrari power units in 2016. But its new STR12, launched today in Spain, will have a current-specification engine this year.
“What Toro Rosso needs is stability with its power unit supply and a competitive engine,” said Key.
“If you look back at the last three years, through unfortunate circumstances we’ve always had a deficit on the power unit side. That has affected our performance and the number of points we’ve scored.”
“That has been frustrating because the aero guys have done a fantastic job with the chassis and we’ve improved a lot in other areas, operationally and in terms of our understanding of the tyres.”
“With the great turnaround we saw from Renault last year and a different approach and momentum that they’ve got now, hopefully this will be the best power unit we’ve ever hard in the hybrid era. For once we will have something that is much more competitive.”
Key added it was essential for the team to start the new season with two experienced drivers due to the change in regulations.
“Imagine if you had two rookies in the 2017 car,” he said. “You would have no reference points at all.”
“So on the power unit and driver side it’s positive, which just leaves the chassis as an unknown. We always set ourselves ambitious targets. In the past we have tended to push as hard as we can for the start of the season and then see what we can do, what we can afford, depending on where we are as time goes on. This year we are taking a more long-term view over the 20 races.”
“Our list of developments is bigger than usual, because we’ve left lots of possibilities in,” he added. “I suspect it will be a very busy year with plenty of performance still to be found.”
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year