Toro Rosso launch STR9 at Jerez
The team’s race drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat were on hand to uncover the car that they will be driving this season. The launch took place in the Jerez pitlane, in front of gathered media.
Kvyat replaces Red Bull-bound Daniel Ricciardo at the team, having taken the GP3 title last year. He impressed during two first practice runs at the end of 2013. Meanwhile Vergne has been retained by the Faenza-based outfit for a third season.
It is the first Toro Rosso to be powered by Renault, with their new V6 Turbo engine, and made its on-track debut at a shakedown, as part of a promotional filming day, in Italy last week.
“Changing your engine partner is always a bit of a step into the unknown for both parties, until that working relationship is established and everyone understands how best to operate together,” said technical director James Key. “Renault were very supportive from the outset, making sure we had a very good overview of what they’ve been up to with the PU and their plans for development, so we were able to get up to speed very quickly with it.
“To switch from a process where you’ve got a well-established and understood way of working with the previous engine supplier to a situation where you have not only a new engine supplier but also a totally different type of power unit that we’re not familiar with at all, is quite a big leap. Not only are you trying to establish the relationship, you’re doing it through what is a very complex project for both sides.
“I have to say, Renault has been excellent at recognising that and helping us out a great deal. They are very proactive and we have daily discussions between our design team and theirs. We have already built up a good working relationship with them.”
The STR9, like the McLaren MP4-29 and Williams FW36, features the unusual thin-tipped front nose. “It has been a fantastic challenge but very hard work,” said chief designer Luca Furbatto. “Pretty much all the systems on the car are brand-new and that’s certainly a concern from a reliability point of view as the season progresses, because we won’t have known reference points from the past few years. Everyone in Faenza and Bicester has worked very hard and we have invested in different technologies and simulations in order to be as best-prepared as possible.”
He added: “We started STR9 in the summer of 2012, initially just purely on the simulation side. When James Key arrived in late 2012, he focused mainly on the 2014 car in terms of planning, simulation targets and internal resourcing whilst we were still designing the STR8. To his credit we were able to perform the first STR9 wind tunnel test shortly before Christmas 2012, much earlier than previous Toro Rosso projects.”
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.