Toro Rosso’s James Key: “There’s still much to analyse prior to the first race”

Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda had a positive pre-season
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

James Key saw the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda enjoy another fruitful day of pre-season testing on Friday, with Brendon Hartley completing one hundred and fifty-six laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the New Zealander ending seventh fastest overall.

The technical director of the Faenza-based outfit was delighted to get more data and knowledge of the STR13 ahead of its race debut in Australia later this month, with Hartley’s efforts adding to the one hundred and sixty-nine laps that Pierre Gasly achieved on Thursday.

“We completed another positive day with a lot of mileage for Brendon,” said Key. “Today we replicated what we did with Pierre yesterday with some early morning softer compound running with slightly lower fuel in short runs and then some race running in the afternoon.

“I think again we managed to learn quite a bit and a little more about the tyres and certain aspects of the car set-up from what we had discovered yesterday, so that proved to be useful but there’s still much to analyse prior to the first race.”

Key was full of praise for the efforts from Honda during the test, with the eight days seeing a near perfect reliability record, something that had been missing from when the Japanese manufacturer partnered with the McLaren F1 Team.

The technical director revealed that there was one minor issue on the final day that ended their participation in the afternoon session in Spain, but he is sure Honda will put prevention measures in place to ensure there is no repeat when the season gets underway.

“I’d like to thank our colleagues at Honda for a really excellent effort over the last two weeks,” insisted Key. “They really have only run one engine for the entirety of Test 02, and pretty much it’s run faultlessly throughout, other than a minor issue towards the end of today where we stopped the car as a precaution to have a look at the issue in more detail and not take any risks.

“Given we were close to the completion of our programme today anyway, we felt it was better to spend some time on that, which Honda are in the process of investigating now, but otherwise everything with them has run faultlessly.  

“I’d like to thank them very much for their hard work and excellent support over the past two weeks and through the car’s design.”

With testing now completed, Key is eager to get the season started and see the STR13 – more than a year since the design of it began – take to the track in Australia for the first time for the opening race of 2018.

“So, that was winter testing 2018 – it’s gone very quickly with two weeks of very intense work,” said Key. “Now we look forward to the beginning of the season!

“We’re at the end of a process which is the completion of the design, development and build of the STR13 which started off over a year ago. We’re at the start of the next phase which is going to race that car and develop it further, and we look forward to starting that process in Melbourne in a couple of weeks.”