Toro Rosso’s James Key: “I think it’s been an excellent test for Honda”

Pierre Gasly completed 147 laps on Thursday
Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

James Key was buoyant after a productive final day of the first pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with Pierre Gasly completing one hundred and forty-seven laps on Thursday.

The morning began wet, which allowed the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda driver to make some progress with how to set up the STR13 in those kind of conditions, and technical director Key was pleased to make the most of the conditions that were presented to them.

“It was good to have some normal running today, although we had wet conditions to begin with which took a surprisingly long time to dry during the morning but then dried very quickly over lunch time,” said Key.

“That allowed us to get some wet running with Pierre in the morning and do a little bit of work on the inter tyres, understand how those tyres were behaving and what set-up implications there could be. We made some headway again on a few ideas on the car and Pierre seemed to be happy with the car in wet conditions.”

When the track was dry, Toro Rosso attempted to play catch-up, and Key says a lot of progress was made and a lot of their planned programme completed, meaning they can turn up to the second test with eyes on improving performance.

“In the afternoon the plan was to try and catch up a little bit on the basic set-up parameters that we wanted to study in preparation for next week,” said Key. “We worked through a programme of some basic tests and learnt some useful directions to pursue further next week.  

“We finished off with a series of long runs that permitted us to get our first view of the car and tyres over a longer run and slightly better track conditions. In that respect, I think it’s been a good day and we’ll go into T02 now with some development items arriving and start getting into the details of the cars’ performance.”

Key was particularly pleased with the number of laps the team were able to complete across the four days, with the three hundred and twenty four they managed more than any other team on the grid, with the one hundred and forty seven laps on the final day the most ever by a Honda since they returned to the sport in 2015.

“Our mileage accumulation plans have general worked well and been useful for this week,” said Key. “I think it’s been an excellent test for Honda – they came here with a completely new engine after a lot of preparation work on their side, and on our side with them too.

“To come out of the test with no issues at all on the power unit side has been an excellent result and a situation we have never had during winter testing. With 147 laps today I think that’s a record for the power unit era for Honda – we have been testing for effectively only three days so this is an outstanding achievement.”