James Key believes Scuderia Toro Rosso should be involved in a very close midfield battle in 2017, and hopes that they can be at the head of this fight.
The technical director of the Faenza-based team believes the Haas F1 Team has shown good pace so far in testing, and feels the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team has made progress as well, while it remains difficult to judge both the Williams Martini Racing and Sahara Force India F1 Team.
“I think Haas looks quite reasonable, they are looking in reasonable shape,” said Key on Motorsport.com. “We have to see how that develops next week and into Melbourne. But they have done a good job.
“Renault. It could be tight with them, we have to see. They look on balance more competitive than they did last year. Williams is difficult to tell at the moment and I think it is difficult to tell with Force India as well.”
Key insists it is too early to judge just where the performance of the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team and the Sauber F1 Team are, and is not confident enough to judge whether they will be part of the battle.
“I don’t think we can tell from either of those two teams at this stage,” said Key. “I guess McLaren like us have had the dramas this week.
“Clearly they haven’t put a full programme at this stage so I don’t think it is easy to comment, but I am sure everyone is very fast….”
Despite the reliability issues, Key believes Renault have made a significant step in performance ahead of the new season, and and is happy that the pace is there in testing as well as back in the factory.
“I think the good thing with Renault is on the performance side, since we’ve been with them, they’ve turned a huge corner,” said Key. “Our impressions are positive — exactly where it stands in the order is impossible to say at this stage, but there’s definitely a vast improvement from what we saw in the past.
“You can see that, that’s real, it’s not just a value coming out of a dyno, I think it’s real. So from a performance point of view we’re happy with what we’re seeing so far.”