Toro Rosso has relied more heavily on parent team Red Bull for its 2019 F1 car design. Will that, plus an improving Honda power unit, help them climb up from last year’s ninth in the constructors’ championship?
In his first article for RaceFans, F1 technical expert Craig Scarborough (@Scarbs) analyses the Toro Rosso STR14.
With the release of its new car for 2019, the STR14 shows a shift in the balance between its innovation and independence, as the team adopts more ideas and hardware from Red Bull. Its STR14 reverts to some older suspension ideas, rivals’ sidepods concepts and the entire Red Bull Honda rear end.
Is there enough new on the Toro Rosso to win in the battle of the midfield?
Having run the Honda power unit in 2018, the team acted as an incubator for its sister team Red Bull Racing. Honda’s performance has been improving under the co-operation of Red Bull Technologies (the overarching technical operation for both teams).
Now both teams will run the Japanese power plant and the RBT gearbox package with it. This will be the first time Toro Rosso has adopted the full RBT rear end, having only run the gear cluster before. It will now race with the RBT gear cluster, casing and rear suspension. This means that much of the engineering at the back of the car is completed outside of Faenza, leaving the smaller Italian design office to focus on the front half of the car.
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With the launch images being just digital representations of the new car, care needs to be taken with the aero add-ons, but the structural changes are safer to accept as accurate details. One of the key changes from 2018 to 2019 is the front suspension, which has reverted to a pre-2016 layout for the wishbones, where they are mounted lower down.
For the last two years STR ran high-mounted wishbones, raised to aid aerodynamics under the car. These required the top wishbone to be mounted to the wheel via a swan-neck camber plate. This emerged through the brake duct and pivoted high above the wheel rim. With the wider wheels and tyres introduced in 2017 this set-up could still produce good geometry, as demonstrated by Mercedes who also ran this layout.
Now the wishbones are still mounted relatively high at the chassis, but slope down and meet the upright inside the wheel, without the need for the exposed mounting. The switch back for 2018 is not driven by regulation, so the change will either be aero or tyre related.
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Being a more restricted in resources than the top teams, last year’s late addition of the Halo diverted resources from other aspects of chassis design and as a result the STR13 ran conventional sidepod inlets. It has been increasingly attractive to repackage this area to gain downforce from better airflow over the diffuser, a direction Ferrari led in 2017, which was followed by Haas, Williams and Red Bull last year.
This change in sidepod design – termed a high-top sidepod – repackages not just the sidepod, but the side impact spars within the sidepod front. The side-mounted crash tubes must be fitted within a small height window. The sidepod bodywork is also capped to a maximum height. Together, the sidepod inlet must dodge the side impact spar and still fit under the maximum bodywork height.
Ferrari found that by lowering the upper side impact spar and moving the inlet above it, filling the maximum allowable height, there is not only good airflow into the sidepod, but the undercut created below the inlet could be larger. This pushes airflow down around the sidepod, over the floor to the diffuser, creating more downforce.
Toro Rosso have now followed this high top sidepod concept, with a neat forward-facing inlet, which has extra vanes formed around it to direct airflow into and around the sidepod.
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Mirrors and vanes
Allied to the change in the sidepod packaging, new rules for mirrors and bargeboards have led to some new aero solutions for the sidepod area.
The rear-view mirrors now need to be mounted further from the cockpit, to give the driver a better rearward view, and are limited to two mountings. Each of the STR14’s mirrors are therefore in the new regulatory position, with the two mounts are manipulated to not just support the mirror pod, but to form aero surfaces. Particularly with the inner mount spanning across to the cockpit area, which is then used as an aero device to direct airflow over the sidepod top.
One feature on the mirrors missing from last year are the vented pods, which was another concept copied from Ferrari. Toro Rosso adopted these mid-season in 2018, as the air being ducted through the mirror housing was found to reduce drag and direct airflow downstream more accurately. These may be fitted to the car in testing, but it raises the question of whether this style of mirrors is still legal within the new rules.
Also in this area, the array of vertical vanes mounted to the sidepod last year are restricted in height for 2019. Thus, the car was presented with a single vane mounted high enough rearwards to be at the full height. What’s unusual is that the single vane is mounted to the edge of the sidepod with a simple horizontal vane. This is a clean and neat solution, but as with the un-detailed floor-edge and bargeboards seen on the launch images, they are likely to become a lot more complex as the car gets to race. With the simplified front wings, it’s these areas that will be increasingly used to control the airflow along the car until they are likely to be banned for 2021.
From its disastrous re-entry to F1 four years ago, the manufacturer has come a long way with power, reliability and packaging. 2018 was still a public test programme, with the inevitable power unit failures, but when compared to Renault, the RA618H was a close match. Even from the start of testing on 2018 it was clear Honda with the Red Bull as partner was an improving offering.
Its fair to say that Toro Rosso won’t have a chassis and power unit to match Mercedes or Ferrari, but its battle is in the midfield with the Renault and customer Mercedes units. Even with its evolution, the Honda remains a tidy power unit package, with its split turbo and reasonable cooling demands. It’s more than possible that the Honda package has been tidied with the Red Bull design team changing layouts to suit chassis and aero requirements. These details and their effects that will be interesting, as McLaren’s ‘size zero’ demands hampered Honda’s original power unit concepts and Red Bull have been uncompromising with ERS packaging in the past.
Last year Toro Rosso kept the twin intercooler package raced since these new turbo engines came into F1 in 2014, so a revised cooling package inside the impressively small sidepods is likely this year, given the resources freed up by the Red Bull partnership.
Red Bull package
There’s two effects to the new Red Bull listed parts agreement, firstly being tied to aspects of the rear end design from the RB15, then the resources being freed up with the design office at Faenza to do other things.
The first could be seen as a positive or a negative, taking the entire Honda and Red Bull rear end, fixes Toro Rosso to a lot of predetermined factors, rear suspension geometry, wheelbase and even rear wing mount design. With good communication, cooperation and the success of the Red Bull Racing package, on balance this must seen as a good thing for the team.
This means a big chunk of the cars packaging is supplied by RBT, this means that from front to rear they will be supplied, the battery and control electronics package that sits in a recess under the fuel tank. Then the Honda engine itself, with any Red Bull-led packaging changes.
At the rear the Red Bull rear carbon fibre casing, which houses the gearbox and rear suspension. What constitutes the rear suspension isn’t clear at the stage, there’s the mounting points moulded into the casing, the wishbones and driveshafts, the outer upright and then the inner working of rockers/dampers/springs.
Where the demarcation between RBT and Toro Rosso lies will only be evident when the see the car stripped down in Melbourne. Beyond the gearbox case, the rear impact structure has to be an Toro Rosso design by regulation, while the rear wing mounting point is fixed into the gearbox design.
Video: Toro Rosso STR14 revealed
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32 comments on “Toro Rosso STR14: Technical analysis”
12th February 2019, 10:10
“Scarbs” on RF? Holy moly, that’s awesome!
Kevin Wong (@fongu)
12th February 2019, 10:34
Great news that Scarbs is writing for RaceFans. Welcome and great first article
Alec Glen (@alec-glen)
12th February 2019, 10:46
Came to say this, awesome @scarbs !!
12th February 2019, 13:16
12th February 2019, 15:55
@phylyp My thoughts exactly :D :D
12th February 2019, 22:33
Yup, same feeling!
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
12th February 2019, 10:13
Epic addition to Racefans! Well done, team!
12th February 2019, 10:14
Wow, great news. And welcom Craig.
12th February 2019, 13:32
Superb news – to see Scarbs article here! RaceFans and Scarbs are the go-to “places” for my F1 needs. Hope this collab is fruitful!
12th February 2019, 20:13
His channel on youtube:
12th February 2019, 10:29
Two big names back-to-back years…nice!
12th February 2019, 10:32
Awesome news that Scarbs is now a racefans contributor!
12th February 2019, 10:35
What a coup, Keith! Welcome Scarbs
Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
12th February 2019, 10:55
Nice one, another great addition to the RaceFans team!
Welcome @scarbs !!!
12th February 2019, 11:12
Great news for RaceFans, welcome @Scarbs!
12th February 2019, 11:13
This is amazing. No doubt this is the #1 F1 site now!!!
12th February 2019, 11:42
Well, as everyone else has said, fantastic expansion of the F1Fanat…. erm I mean RaceFans team. Excellent stuff.
12th February 2019, 11:44
Fantastic. Warm welcome @Scarbs!
12th February 2019, 11:45
Another great addition to RF.
Travis Daye (@travis-daye)
12th February 2019, 11:52
Awesome! Absolutely my favourite F1 technical analyst! Launch week is looking even better!
12th February 2019, 12:29
Scarbs on Racefans, what a lovely news – and a nice analysis! I wonder if the supposed similarities between STR and Red Bull car is voluntary to be able to gather more data at first and eventually diverge if everything looks ok.
12th February 2019, 13:05
I know these is just a render and the real car is going to be different, but what happened to the rain light mounted on the rear wing? I thought it was mandatory for this year and there’s no sign of it in this nor in the Renault
12th February 2019, 13:20
What a coup, Keith! Welcome Scarbs
12th February 2019, 13:22
Feeling happier every day that I contribute to this platform
12th February 2019, 13:50
Welcome to Racefans @scarbs
Rick D. (@partsguy20)
12th February 2019, 13:59
This site keeps getting better and better!
David Not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard)
12th February 2019, 14:26
Wow, as many here have said, welcome to F1F/RF @scarbs!
12th February 2019, 14:45
Awesome writeup – thanks Craig & Keith! What a great month so far.
12th February 2019, 16:03
I honestly think @Scarbs is the best addition you could have. Proud to be a RaceFans Supporter. I’m looking forward to read the technical analysis of the rest of the field
12th February 2019, 16:57
Welcome to Racefans @scarbstech , I wholeheartedly agree with all here. The best analysis around the interwebs.
12th February 2019, 19:54
Wrong about the McLaren forcing Honda into the size zero concept.
Also wrong that Honda have shown signs of improvement, or that Red Bull have any influence over Honda engine design.
Detecting some bias there which is never nice in a technical article.
12th February 2019, 22:44
Do you know if the rear end of the RB15 went thru major modifications last year? If so, which iteration is the STR14 going to use?
I can see Torro Rosso (sorry) running as a stable benchmark against which to gauge the main team’s progress/improvements along the year, but also giving the Italians some engineering margin to fight their own midfield fight, with that in mind it’d be interesting to know which suspension architecture they went with because it clears up the design options they could be taking in the future.
Comments are closed.