Barcelona Testing – Toro Rosso Technical Director James Key has said he has enjoyed more creative freedom in designing the STR12 2017 car.
With Formula One undergoing a massive reimagining with faster, wider and more aggressive-looking cars, there have been more opportunities for car designers to think outside of the box.
“It’s nice to have a bit more freedom. We probably haven’t had as many aerodynamic tools to play with since 2008,” Key said.
“But then the rules tightened up in 2009 and even further in 2014. Now, some freedom has returned and that’s a great challenge for the aero department.”
Head of Aerodynamics Brendan Gilhome agreed that loopholes in the regulations were starting to emerge, but that the delayed nature of finalising the rules has limited teams’ ability to utilise them.
“I agree that a lot of the loopholes that existed over the years were tightened up and now that they are expanding again, everyone is a lot more aware of the limitations of the regulations,” he said.
“However, the regulations were evolving until very late last year and we didn’t really have the first firm direction out of the working groups until mid-February .
“In order to work on the aerodynamic development, you need the tyres [for the wind tunnel] and we didn’t get those until late-April.
“When you have additional freedom, at the start it’s quite easy to find additional performance, but it can run out very quickly as well. You don’t have long to make your choice and if you make the wrong one, it can have a big impact on performance for the next year.”
Key added that the overhaul in regulations has left several question marks over the pace of the car and where the team will lie in the pecking order.
“It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens because one of the questions we asked ourselves when we started this project, is what makes a good 2017 car?
“We don’t know the tyres yet, the aero has changed quite significantly, particularly when it comes to managing certain areas of the car where you have not got a philosophy that carries over from last year to this, so you’ve got to start from scratch in some areas.
“What makes a good car aerodynamically and mechanically for 2017? What makes a good car built to these regulations? That’s the million dollar question.”