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2014-01-28 10:43

IT HAS HORNS: Toro Rosso considered going the same route as Lotus with "twin prongs or tusks" on the nose but the team scrapped the idea. Image: Lotus


JEREZ, Spain - Toro Rosso's new Formula 1 car sent a gasp of astonishment (and a flurry of ribald comments) rippling through social media after it was unveiled on the eve of pre-season testing here.

On January 27 2014 Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne lifted a red sheet off the first new car to be seen "in the flesh" after other teams presented their cars online to reveal its full glory.

The nose - emerging long, thin and gently drooping like a half-inflated balloon from a fuller body - drew immediate attention. And the first of the ribald comments...

Kvyat said: "It's important that it's fast. If it's fast I don't really care (what it looks like). What I see from the cockpit when I'm driving is the steering wheel, the mirrors and the road."

If some initial reaction to the STR9 was colourful, with plenty of phallic references, technical director James Key preferred to direct attention towards other areas and other cars.


"It's very easy to be distracted by these noses but we need to start looking at the rest of the car and see what other people have done," he suggested, hinting also at a future controversy waiting to explode. Ten of the 11 teams are in Jerez for Formula 1 first pre-season test but it is Lotus, the absentee, which has triggered most debate by showing a car with a split nose.

Key suggested that could provide the first technical showdown of the year when asked whether he had seen anything so far that looked to be pushing the regulations to the limit.

Kvyat said: "Apart from the Lotus nose, no. The Lotus nose needs a bit of clarification. It's a very clever idea. The question really is 'is it within the spirit?' but we'll see."


The 2014 regulations, driven by safety considerations to lower the noses of car's to prevent penetration of other cars to be in a crash have forced teams to create unusual front ends - some likened to an anteater or, in the case of Ferrari, a dolphin.

The Lotus nose seen previous week had twin prongs or tusks, one slightly smaller than the other, and Key said Toro Rosso had looked at a similar solution before discarding it.

"We looked at it early on when the car was quite a bit less mature than now. In theory it was working well but in reality we felt it had too many drawbacks so we didn't pursue that," he added. "We kind of understand where they've gone with it. It could be worth a re-visit when things have calmed down. I don't think it's illegal, it just whether it's in the spirit of the regulations.

"Our interpretation of a similar idea was slightly different at the front of the nose to the point where we were happy it could be accepted as within the spirit of the regs. The Lotus is probably the most extreme out there."

Toro Rosso, eighth overall last season, now has the same Renault engine as 2013 champion and sister team Red Bull after switching from Ferrari, but a fraction of the budget. Principal Franz Tost said it had been a struggle to get the car finished in time for testing, despite starting work on it earlier than ever.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.

Read more on:    toro rosso  |  lotus  |  jean-eric vergne  |  jerez  |  f1

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