The 34th F1 Beyond the Grid podcast of 2019 has Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost talk about his motor racing journey, time with Ralf Schumacher, Red Bull stint, Helmut Marko and more.
Tost starts off the Beyond The Grid podcast talking about how he feels being the second longest-standing team principal in F1 after Sir Frank Williams. They also discussed his first year as Toro Rosso team principal in 2006 after being hired by Red Bull.
The philosophy of Red Bull to create Toro Rosso was, 1) Educate the young drivers from the Red Bull young driver pool, and 2) Use all the synergies with Red Bull technology. They talked about the the first few seasons and how other F1 teams were against him.
Especially in 2008, other team principals felt that Toro Rosso was too successful and so they rallied against them. Staying with the season, Tost recalled their sole F1 win at Monza, courtesy Sebastian Vettel. He noted the car to be competitive with the Ferrari engine.
Detailing the weekend, he talked about how the rain during Friday practice helped the team to set course for the weekend ahead. The strategy to go out on full wet tyres instead of intermediates helped the team secure pole and a safety car start, further helped in win.
The topic shifted to Vettel and his talent. He described him as a very calm driver under pressure and gave a feeling to everyone that he was in F1 for a long time. They spoke about Vettel’s Fuji trip and Tost’s time in Japan with Ralf Schumacher.
Talking about Toro Rosso, Tost opened up on his experience working with Gerhard Berger, who was a shareholder in the team early on. He also praised Berger for his talent and natural speed, even comparing him to Ayrton Senna.
Despite their work and everything, Tost relayed that Dietrich Mateschitz is still an integral part of the team’s decision-making process. Next in line to be discussed was Tost’s own racing career and how his love for motor racing eventually kick-started.
He explains how being a Jochen Rindt fan pushed him to try racing. He started his racing in Formula Ford in Austria. He detailed on racing in those times on budget, sleeping at tracks than hotels. He admitted that he did not have the natural speed to carry on as a racer.
Motor racing came to him in school through his friends, who were avid fans. He revealed how he used to read magazines and watch races on TV religiously. Post his small stint in racing, Tost worked as a racing instructor during his holidays.
He completed his studies in sports science and economics, once he got to know he could not become a racing driver. Tost recalled his work with Roland Ratzenberger and spoke about him being selfish racer – even though they shared a good bond.
Tost worked in F4 and gradually moved to F3 with Walter Lechner Racing School. He moved to Germany to run the F3 team from scratch, which helped him learn everything he knows. That work led to Willi Webber signing him up to manage Schumacher.
They discussed about Webber, his way of working and how he managed to get the returns on his investments. Together with it, they spoke about Schumacher – whether in Formula Nippon or in F1 then. He spoke highly of him and spoke about his natural speed.
He felt the German was not at the right time in the right place to extract more from his career. They also discussed how Ralf handled being Michael’s brother. Through Schumacher, Tost got to join BMW-Williams as trackside operations in-charge.
Tost detailed on the relationship between BMW and Williams and why it didn’t work out. He described BMW engine to be great but the Williams car to be wrong. He then spoke about Schumacher’s Monza accident and the team’s lack of preparation.
With BMW and Williams lining up for a break-up, Tost spoke about his move to Red Bull to join Toro Rosso after extensive talks with Mateschitz. He shed details on how Toro Rosso was eventually built by the Red Bull boss.
The discussions were then about Toro Rosso and its growth in F1. He put Vettel as the best driver in the stable but also said that Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastian Buemi to be up there as well.
He added Alexander Albon as an impressive talent. While discussing the highs, they touched on the lows, especially the controversy surrounding Scott Speed in 2007. He described him as the driver who frustrates him the most as his attitude wasn’t right.
Despite the speed he had, Tost feels the American destroyed his own F1 career due to his attitude. The topic moved to his management and leadership style and said that he tries to talk to the people directly and give them realistic goals.
Then they discussed how different it is now to deal with younger drivers. He stated that he feels happy to see young drivers graduate from Toro Rosso into the senior Red Bull F1 team. He added that if Red Bull hires anyone outside Toro Rosso, it will frustrate him.
They then touched on about the team’s performance in the 2019 F1 season and how he does not get affected by losing technical staff to another team. He then spoke about his relationship with Dr. Marko, where they do disagree, especially on driver selection.
They talked about Nikki Lauda then and his impressions on him to join F1 as they ended the podcast discussing the development of Toro Rosso and its factory in Faenza compared to Minardi. He summed up with 2021 rules and Red Bull’s long term commitment to F1.
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The story was written by Venkatesh P Koushik and edited by Darshan Chokhani