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Key tells Toro Rosso to focus on fundamentals with STR8
Toro Rosso technical director James Key says his team has focused on the fundamentals of its car this year rather than getting carried away with too many elaborate concepts.
The new STR8 was launched in the Jerez pit lane on the eve of pre-season testing with Spanish sponsor Cepsa announcing the team is aiming for sixth in the constructors' championship. The new car is a departure from the STR7, doing away with the heavily undercut 'double floor' sidepods, and Key said the main objective had been to get the basics right before bolting on updates ahead of the start of the season.
"What I said to the guys was that the baseline of the car needs to be worked on here and let's not push on the special stuff like the exhausts and the additional projects over the standard bread and butter aero plan," Key said. "What we needed to do was get the baseline of the car up to get the fundamentals right and then start applying all that stuff. So that's why this [the current car] is a very basic start point and there's more to come.
"We've got some bits coming to the next test and the test after that which will visibly change the car for Melbourne. We're working now on the future steps and it will evolve for sure and we're looking at some quite fundamentally different approaches that will eventually come to life later in the season. If we're going to go from where we were [last season] to where we'd like to be, we can't just throw bits at the car at every race, we've got to step back and think about what we're going to achieve."
Key joined the team in September, by which time most of the car was already mapped out, but he did work on the cooling layout and sidepods, which he believes have opened new avenues for progress.
Talking about last year's 'double floor', a concept Toro Rosso had been pursuing for two years, he said: "I think it was a little bit of a punt really. We could see what was going on but it wasn't an obvious step change in what you're trying to achieve. We had the capacity to change it with this car, the car was designed to go lower with the coolers and fill in that gap, and we decided to go with it.
"What we saw with STR7 was that it was drying up a little bit and it was getting more and more difficult to find new stuff on the aerodynamics side. That change just encourages a different direction of development and new areas open up. That's kind of what happened and we've recovered from it pretty quick. It's offered up a bit of scope with other areas of the car as well by changing the airflow around the front of the sidepods."
Asked about whether the team had found an advantage by fitting a vanity panel over the stepped nose, Key said: "We found it slightly better but I think it very much depends on the concept at the front of the car, with the suspension and the front wing and all the things that go around it. It's pretty light. "