MAY 20, 2008

Toro Rosso debuts new STR3 at Monaco

Teams do not like to introduce new cars at Monaco. The nature of the circuit means that there are accidents and that cars need to be repaired and it is easier to fix cars that one knows than new ones. The fact is that Toro Rosso needs results and so it is taking a risk and hoping that things will work out. It is either very brave or simply mad.

"I am both brave and mad as everyone knows!" says the team's technical director Giorgio Ascanelli. "Introducing a new car in Monaco, especially when the weather forecast is for rain, is putting at risk our spares availability. Nevertheless, there are reasons that lead us to bring two new cars here. Firstly, delaying it‘‚  s debut by one more race would mean less running and less experience with the car and the crucial learning curve would be further delayed which is not a good thing. Secondly, Monte Carlo would have been a step too far for the old car and the specific demands of this circuit mean we would have been badly prepared to tackle it with the STR2B, which was last year‘‚  s car with different gearbox, bodywork and wings and we had not planned to race it here. Monaco preparation would have been poor with the old car as it was never planned to run it here.

"Monaco is a difficult place to work at the best of times and even with the old car in the last race in Istanbul, we had some problems with our pit stop management, so now just to make life even tougher, we have to do it with different wheels, different wheelnuts and guns, different fuel adapters and many systems that will need careful attention. As for car preparation, I think we are in reasonable shape. The Ricard test helped us quite a bit with a large turnout of personnel, meaning that pretty much the entire team has had the opportunity to work on the new car, so we should be pretty well prepared. If Monaco has disadvantages, there are also advantages, because for example, on Friday there is no running, which means you have all of Friday to fully check the car and make progress in terms of getting acquainted with it."

Ascanelli says that he reckoned that the new car will bring an improvement of "somewhere between three tenths and half a second quicker than our old car around Monaco."

Ascanelli reckons that there could, however, be problems. Red Bull Racing uses the same chassis but Renault engines, while Toro Rosso is a Ferrari customer.

"Both ours and their engines are V8s but the similarities stop there," he says. "The engine environment is completely different and of course, we would have liked longer tests with all the systems. But I am happy with what we have achieved so far. Of course, this is an area where we are stepping into the unknown because we have had limited testing mileage."