Key: Surprising what you can do when faced with uncertainty


Toro Rosso were a revelation in 2015, not only did they have two impressive rookies in their fold but they also had the STR10 chassis, penned by technical chief James Key and his team, which was more often than not at the sharp end of proceedings.

This year, after a seson of uncertainty over power units and the future of the team amid Red Bull’s pull out threats, they have an all new Ferrari power unit to bolt on to the back of the STR11. These factors have conspired to compromise the 2016 season for the Faenza based outfit.

When asked about if this was the case, Key told Sky Sport, “Yes and no, because when you’ve got a tricky engine situation it’s always a compromise.”

“There is a compromise because you’ve really got to be optimising your car around what is an incredibly complicated installation of these power units. Back in March is when you’re really getting to grips with what you’re trying to do.

“So it does compromise from a technical viewpoint. In terms of what the team is doing, I don’t think it makes the slightest bit of difference. You simply shuffle plans around accordingly.”

“We’ve got various stages of planning, there are some really good guys to work on all this stuff, so we’ve got a lot of very competent production guys and designers who are working hard to make sure that we’re in the best shape possible.”


“You’d never want it because it is a massive distraction and it does compromise your car, but it’s surprising what you can do when you’re faced with uncertainty.”

Sensational rookie duo Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz were the best driver pairing the team had since they unearthed Sebastian Vettel in 2008, and Key remains confident that the team will continue to be upwardly mobile in the future.

“For sure we can build because we learnt a massive amount and made a huge step [with the STR10] from the STR9. Most of it we understand why. But there are areas that perhaps surprised us a bit too and we made a bigger step than expected,” admits Key.

“So you build on that. In some cars it’s reinventing stuff to release more of the potential, in other cases it’s taking a philosophy that seems sound and pushing it to the next step where you need a redesign to do that, because in-season it’s not possible.”

“There’s a lot of filtering to do, but if you look at medium and high-speed corner apex speeds, we’re right up there with all the guys ahead of us. In fact, in Barcelona where we qualified fifth and sixth we were second to only one of the Mercedes’ in the high-speed corners. So that gives a good indication of how much aero we’ve got,” recalled Key.

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