A rethink in mechanical design has netted the Faenza squad a string of top-ten qualifying results this year and while Toro Rosso currently sit seventh in the constructor’s championship (some thirty-three points behind McLaren and seventeen points in front of Sauber) there is little to be gained from an all-out assault on sixth in the championship as Key explained to Formula 1.com
“There are certain areas of the 2013 car that you’d love to look at but you can’t, and there are certain areas that won’t be touched now because we have to move on” explained Key. “If you can prioritize and say ‘we’ve got 10 things to look at, let’s look at these five’, that kind of alleviates some of the pressure of trying to work full on with the current car to the detriment of the future car.”
While a switch to Renault’s ‘Energy F1’ power-train will no doubt align with some of Red Bull Racing’s internal tout ensemble, James admitted he had explored initial concepts around the 2014 regulations whilst still at Sauber.
“When I arrived at STR (Scuderia Toro Rosso, in September 2012) not so much had been done. Obviously there was the engine question as well, so it was a case of starting as soon as possible.” said Key. “I originally started looking at it with my old team (Sauber) when the regulations were developing – so that would have been at the end of 2011. Really I think that’s the period where you need to start thinking about the implications of such a massive change, particularly how your basic understanding of the car changes.”
With a decrease in fuel consumption in 2014, most engine manufacturers will be focusing on maximizing power at the lowest possible rev range. This in itself will have a persuasive influence over how engineers tackle their aero package; the single exhaust outlet rendering blown exhaust down-force seemingly unattainable.
Nevertheless, Key believes a strong communication between their headquarters in Faenza and Toro Rosso’s aero group at the Bicester wind-tunnel will more than compensate for Bicester’s 50% scale facility (current regulations permit a 60% scale).
“We have got eighty people in Bicester with three buildings” Key told Autosport’s Edd Straw.
“It’s developing well and now we are trying to integrate out CFD department in Faenza with it (Bicester) to try and push them closer together.
It was a similar story when RenaultSport’s Deputy Managing Director Rob White methodically conjugated Renault’s engine and chassis departments in France and the UK – the improved communication heralding two constructor’s championships in 2005-06.
Key remains optimistic about the challenges ahead for the Faenza outfit.
“There’s still a long way to go but I have to say it’s quite a long way from where it was when I joined” said Key.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic