Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s 2013 challenger can be the final piece in the puzzle for the Faenza squad, team boss Franz Tost said at the unveiling of the STR8 on Monday.
The team, entering its eighth season in Formula 1, is sticking with its pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne for the coming campaign.
That stability, combined with the fact the whole project is overseen by James Key, who has been the team’s technical director since last September, has left Tost with “justified optimism” ahead of an important year for the Red Bull junior team.
He said: “Formula 1 is approaching a new era, specifically in 2014, and, at Toro Rosso, we have already made significant changes to our structure both in terms of manpower and facilities, to be ready for that.
“We believe the changes made will also help in the short term for this coming season and, combined with the fact that Daniel and Jean-Eric are more experienced, now that they have a season with us under their belts, we start winter testing in a mood of justified optimism.”
The young pairing only finished 17th and 18th in the final standings in 2012 but showed flashes of why they are so highly rated by the World Champions; particularly Ricciardo’s sixth-place in Bahrain qualifying.
And the Australian shares his team boss’ confidence that they are well-placed to improve in 2013.
“The 2013 version of me is a more confident person and driver, with more self-belief than last year,” he said. “I’ve always had the desire and determination to succeed and now I’m ready to reinforce that and let everyone see what I’m all about.
“I spent most of the winter Down Under and when I came back into the factory in Faenza, I could feel a very positive atmosphere with everyone excited about the new car. The target for us this year is very simple: to improve on last year.”
His French team-mate, who pipped Ricciardo in the points last year, also believes their new-found experience will be a big bonus and allow them to challenge further up the grid.
“Going into this season is a completely different experience to this time last year, when I had to deal with a lot of unknowns,” he added. “I had to learn the majority of tracks, understand so many details about Formula 1 and adapt to working with the team.
“This year, I will still be learning – you never stop in Formula 1 – but the basics are there and I will be able to focus on more important aspects of the job. In general, I sense a new philosophy within Toro Rosso: I wouldn’t say people are working harder, but maybe they are going in a better direction.”