Toro Rosso has the ability to fight for fourth place in the constructors’ championship this season, according to team principal Franz Tost.
The past few seasons have seen Toro Rosso target a top-five finish in the constructors’ standings, but a lack of stability on the power unit front – which even saw the team run a year-old Ferrari power unit in 2016 – has so far hampered those attempts. Ahead of a new works partnership with Honda, Tost insists the target must remain the same because only Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have proven themselves to be out of reach in the past.
Asked about the challenge of setting targets for his team in 2018 before it has done any running with Honda, Tost told RACER: “It’s difficult.
“We must be within the top five once more, it’s the same story as in 2017. Look, the first three positions are gone, forget it, this is another league and another world because they have much bigger financial resources and are much bigger teams. But then from position four onwards, everything is possible because Force India is running with a similar budget to us, Williams as well.
“I expect that McLaren will become quite competitive as well and Renault will make a step forwards, but it means from fourth position onwards everything is possible. Once more we have to build a good car, a competitive car, and we have the ingredients together to fight for a successful position.”
With the competitiveness of McLaren and Renault difficult to gauge, Tost says there is nothing significant that Toro Rosso is lacking in order to be able to be ahead of Williams and Force India based on their resources over the past few years.
“Regarding Williams and Force India at this stage – I don’t know what they will achieve this winter and they might suddenly find £100million (just over $141 million) in sponsorship – we are working at a similar level and there shouldn’t be any excuses from our side not to be close to them. To beat them is another question, but to be up there.”
Toro Rosso goes into 2018 with an inexperienced driver line-up in F1 terms, with Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley having started just nine grands prix between them at the end of last season. The team confirmed on Tuesday that its new car will be launched on February 26 – the morning of the first day of testing in Barcelona.