“We can be pleased by the encouraging start we have made” – Toro Rosso’s James Key

Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Technical Director of Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, James Key has revealed his happiness over the work done by his team on the opening day of Formula 1 winter testing.

The new STR13 completed 93 laps and ended the day in eighth, courtesy of Brendon Hartley with no problems. However, the “icy” conditions – as Hartley put it –  in Barcelona curtailed the afternoon running for all teams.

Hartley also recorded the second fastest speed in the speed trap at 284.9km/h, behind Scuderia Ferrari‘s Kimi Räikkönen but ahead of the third placed – Mercedes powered – Williams Martini Racing car of Lance Stroll.

Key said that it was enjoyable to go testing after a “long winter” and said that the week’s main goal for Toro Rosso is mileage. The 432km covered by Hartley is encouraging.

“It’s great to go testing after a long winter of preparation and get the new car running on track,” said Key.

“I think the priority for today, and for this week, has been predominantly mileage accumulation for checking the reliability of the car itself, giving the drivers plenty of opportunity to learn about the car and to cover some ground with preparation for the start of the season.”

The Faenza based team head into the 2018 season with two drivers starting their first full season in the series – Double World Endurance champion Hartley and 2016 GP2 Series champion Pierre Gasly. Key noted that the mileage covered is not only important for the team, but also the drivers. Due to their late-season call-ups, Gasly and Hartley missed out on any testing last year.

This is an important preparation period for the drivers, which they didn’t get the opportunity to cover last year,” the former Sauber F1 Team technical director added.

Key praises proactive start with Honda

“We will also be going through the fundamentals of the new tyres, car set up, aero performance etc in this first week and we started this today in a positive way.

“We got through the majority of the test programme which was ultimately curtailed by the tricky weather conditions in the afternoon.”

Toro Rosso are also entering 2018 with their first ever works engine deal, after swapping power unit suppliers with the McLaren F1 Team last year. Honda have endured a trying return to Formula 1, but the Red Bull sister team are happy with the partnership so far.

“We covered a lot of laps with no major problems, we have worked well and proactively with our colleagues at Honda over the last 6 months and we can be pleased by the encouraging start we have made.”

Gasly is set to be in the car tomorrow.