After a disappointing season in 2013, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost believes a mixture of change and continuity can help the Faenza team re-establish itself.
"The 2014 season represents a very interesting challenge for all the Formula 1 teams, with the sport facing the biggest change to the technical regulations that it has seen over the past few decades," he says. "Here at Scuderia Toro Rosso we regard the coming months and 19 Grands Prix not only as a challenge but also as a fantastic opportunity to step up in the team hierarchy. Continuity is a key factor when it comes to making progress and that applies to revenue streams as much as it does to the technical side of the organisation, therefore I am pleased to say that sharing that opportunity with us will be our long-term partners and sponsors, Red Bull, Cepsa and Nova Chemicals. In addition, I'm delighted to welcome on board a new sponsor, the investment group Sapinda. We at Toro Rosso thank them all for their support and the trust they have shown in us.
"The new rules have required a completely new design philosophy, starting with a clean sheet of paper. Having invested in new staff and facilities over the past few years, we have been able to tackle the task of designing and building the STR9 with a group of engineers and designers that have been working on the project since Day 1, under the leadership of James Key. That stability has been of great benefit, while in other areas we hope that changes we have introduced will also bring a step up in performance.
"Not only do we have a new engine configuration with the move to a 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 coupled to two energy recovery systems, here at Toro Rosso we also have a new engine supplier in the shape of Renault. The French company's credentials are impeccable, having won the World Championship titles for the past four years and we have already established an excellent working relationship with its engineers, since our partnership was announced at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix. Joining forces with Renault also means that, within the framework of the Sporting Regulations, we can once again enjoy synergies on the technical front with our colleagues at Red Bull Technology.
"At the end of last year, Daniel Ricciardo 'graduated' to Infiniti Red Bull Racing and here at Toro Rosso we are pleased to be running Daniil Kvyat alongside Jean-Eric Vergne. The Frenchman is in his third year with us and will naturally be expected to use his experience to drive the team forward. However, the Russian rookie, the reigning GP3 champion, is clearly very talented and I believe it won' t be long until our two drivers are pushing one another very hard. Jev has a new race engineer, Xevi Pujolar, who joined us at the start of the year, while Daniil will work with Marco Matassa who ran Ricciardo last year. In recent months, we have also take n on other engineers to strengthen our technical team, while also fine-tuning our organisational structure.
"The new technical regulations alter the look of the cars for 2014 and combined with new sporting rules, the way the races evolve will also have a different flavour: restrictions on how much fuel can be used in a race and the speed at which it can be fed in to the engine will give the strategists a new challenge as they balance performance against fuel economy, deciding how and when to make the most of the energy recovery systems which will deliver far more power than their predecessors. Increased torque and different engine characteristics will also impact on tyre degradation and wear, two familiar parameters when it comes to picking the right strategy for Sunday afternoon. The characteristics of the recovery systems and the turbo chargers mean that cooling will be a major priority, while further restrictions on how many engines and gearboxes can be used in a season make reliability the most critical factor, especially in the early part of the season.
"The purpose of the raft of changes to the rules is to make Formula 1 more environmentally friendly and to use technologies that have more relevance to road transport solutions of the future. However, the future of the sport itself depends on it delivering a good show to the end user, the spectator watching from the side of the track or in front of a screen somewhere. The fans just want to see exciting racing and hopefully that is what they will get in 2014.
"As for what role Toro Rosso will play, it's too early to tell and even harder than usual to make any predictions. What I can say is that we must do better than in 2013 and move up the order."
Check out our STR9 gallery, here.