The snow arrived early this year in Faenza and has given our factory a festive look, in time for the Christmas and New Year holidays. Festive at least for those of us in northern Europe, although some of our staff would feel more at home looking forward to enjoying dinner on 25th December on the beach!
That’s because, although Toro Rosso has an Italian heart and soul, it employs people from no fewer than 26 different nationalities, from as far afield as Australia and China and nearer to home from Spain, France and the UK. Therefore while the majority of the race team breathed a sigh of relief getting home from Abu Dhabi, knowing there would be no more flights for a couple of months, some of our guys are now heading off to the four corners of the globe to head home and meet up with friends and family.
Before the break, we held our traditional end of year party here in the workshop together with Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, but unlike these parties in a “normal” business, it wasn’t a case of switching off the office lights once the last people had left, because, apart from the official summer break, a Formula 1 factory never really shuts down. Although many of us will enjoy a decent break over the new year period, a good number of people will be working hard on our STR13 in preparation for the 2018 season.
Will it be a lucky ’13? We will have to wait and see. In general terms, next year’s car won’t look too dissimilar to its predecessor because the rules which govern the shape of the modern Formula 1 machine are more or less the same as last year’s, when several major changes were introduced. However, there are plenty of challenges for us on the horizon, first and foremost, our switch to Honda power. The Japanese company has a great track record in F1, dating back to its beginnings in the 60s and we have already been getting to know one another since the end of the season. Not only will we be adapting to the new power units, we will have to bear in mind that we are meant to complete the season – 21 races in 2018 – with just three engines per driver, down from four this year.
Those big wide tyres were one of the main talking points a year ago and next year we will be facing a further challenge, as Pirelli has increased its range of compounds from five to seven, with the introduction of the Hyper Soft and the Super Hard.
That total of 21 Grands Prix is down to the return of France and Germany on the calendar and the disappearance of Malaysia. That’s going to make life even busier – we will face the sport’s first ever triple header with France, Austria and Great Britain on three consecutive weekends – we just can’t get enough!!
But now, a few days off to recharge our batteries and prepare for another season. All that’s left now is for us to thank all of you, our fans and followers for all your support in 2017 and we look forward to seeing you, interacting with us on social media or in person at the race tracks in 2018.