Franz, sum up the key elements to Scuderia Toro Rosso’s 2018 season.
FT: There’s a lot that’s new for our team this season. First, we get to work with a new technology partner, Honda. Right from the start, they had a positive approach and we are proud to work alongside people from such a great company. Our car features a new power unit and, along with our driver line-up of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, everything is in place for us to tackle the 2018 season. We always give our all and I’m sure that if we stay focused and work together, the team can achieve the success it deserves.
How are you finding working with Honda so far?
FT: The cooperation with Honda is important to us, as it is the first time in the history of Toro Rosso that we are working in a partnership together with a car manufacturer. It changes a lot, and it was very satisfying to see our engineers and our concept group sitting together with the Honda people, suggesting ways to improve the packaging in the chassis and so on. Honda has a great reputation around the world and specifically in motorsport, with a long and very successful racing history. We have established a close relationship and they have made big steps forward. I lived and worked for a year in Japan so I know a bit about their culture. Working together involves completely different methods to those used when working with a European company. We introduced our engineers to this new culture by organising seminars in our factory, so that they could get a better understanding of the Japanese way of thinking. I think this has helped a lot, because what I have seen so far is that the cooperation is effective and already at a high level.
You are known for getting to the office very early in the morning. That must be useful for dealing with the time difference to the Honda people in Japan!
FT: Yes, I like to be at my desk around 6.30. I can do a lot of work where I need to be concentrated and to have the time to reflect on everything. First of all, I look at the e-mails that have arrived during night. Especially, as for our Honda friends in Japan as they are eight hours ahead of us, I can immediately answer them in the morning.
And finally, a word about your drivers before their first full season of F1?
FT: I am happy with both of them: Pierre was the GP2 champion two years ago and last season he finished second in the Japanese Super Formula. He also performed really well with us in those final races of last year, as it wasn’t easy to jump in such a complicated car and race. As for Brendon, he had already enjoyed some success with Red Bull back when he did the Renault World Series, where he was very competitive in races and qualifying, showing a good speed. More recently with Porsche, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours and he is also a double world champion in the World Endurance Championship. I’m convinced that if we provide them with a competitive car, they will be able to perform at very high levels. We have been preparing them for this year, with a lot of simulator work, and both have spent plenty of time at the factor familiarising themselves with everything over the winter period.