Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Chief Designer of the STR8 describes his design approach
I joined Toro Rosso on 1st December 2011 and my first task was to learn as much as possible about the
team and to familiarise myself with the STR7 which was designed by my predecessor.
In pre-season testing last year, we were able to get a first look at the strengths and limitations of the
STR7. It was clear from the start that we had some issues with the weight distribution of the car and we
were not able to effectively cover the entire weight distribution range, as controlled by the FIA
regulations. This therefore became a point we wanted to rectify with STR8. Another fact to emerge from
initial testing, was that the car appeared to be more compliant in terms of laptime sensitive compliances,
when compared to other cars I have worked on and that was another point we wanted to rectify with this
year’s car. A further key point was that I wanted to create a platform for aerodynamic development of the
car. The rear end of the STR7 was effectively derived from the previous model, the STR6 and I felt the
rear could be made much slimmer and more compact and that was another area we focussed on in
designing STR8. We sought to give a mechanical infrastructure to the aerodynamic department which
would be a good platform for their development work.
The project began in March 2012 and we started with the rear end of the car- gearbox, hydraulics and
rear suspension – because the production time and the testing required for these components is very
extensive. We were able to issue the drawings for the gearbox parts in July and, as we prepare for our
first track test, our dyno testing suggests we have a strong and reliable gearbox. The second phase was
to integrate within the gearbox design a revised rear suspension, with the emphasis on making it more
aerodynamic, in order to generate more downforce. When designing the chassis, again, providing a
platform for aerodynamic development was an important consideration.
In terms of suspension layout, kinematics and internals those are again brand new. The STR7 was very
limited in terms of set-up possibilities and with STR8 we opened up this aspect substantially, adding
devices and features not present on previous STR cars. This should allow race engineers and drivers to
perfect the handling and ride behaviour of the new car.
As for the aerodynamic concept of the car, this too has changed fundamentally from the previous year.
Development was rather limited in 2012 and this was because the STR7’s distinctive sidepod design,
although initially looking quite good, later proved difficult to develop, so that we reached a plateau during
the season. We therefore decided in early August to go down another route and at the same time took
the opportunity to change the cooling layout of the car and so, on STR8 the radiators are much lower.
This also allows us to drop the deck of the sidepods more aggressively. These changes mean the car
actually looks quite conventional, while still retaining some of the features of STR7, because even if it is
a new concept, it is an evolution based on the current regulations. We are also planning an aggressive
development programme for the first part of the season, based around a very narrow rear end and low
From a weight distribution point of view, we believe that thanks to the architectural shape of STR8, we
should be able to explore all the opportunities within the weight distribution range allowed in the rules.
Initial indications on suspension compliance are encouraging and in terms of aero development, we are
in better shape than at the end of last season and another positive step is that the rate of development is
increasing, indicating there is further potential to move forward in terms of downforce.
In terms of manpower, the design team has grown a little bit. Everyone remained motivated, even when
things did not go so well in 2012: everybody has worked extremely hard to deliver a brand new car on
time and I like to tell them that the only carry-over part from STR7 is in fact the steering wheel! For a
team that is maybe half the size of a top team, that and the fact we are on-time with the project, is a
Operationally, we continue to work with a wind tunnel and part of our aerodynamic staff based in
Bicester in the UK. Over the past 12 months there has been a big improvement in communication
between the various departments and we have invested in new technologies on this front, so even
though we are operating on different sites, effectively it is as though we are working next door to one
another. This step up in communication means the new car is better integrated than in the past. I can
sum it up by saying that, twelve months ago, when work came through from Bicester, engineers in
Faenza felt on the receiving end of something that was designed elsewhere, now it really feels like a codesign
from different departments within the same team, which is encouraging for the future, both short
and long term.
Posted by Baz L