The strength of this year’s Toro Rosso car has not gone unnoticed in the Grand Prix paddock, leading to speculation that the team’s technical director James Key might be the target of bids from several other teams keen to secure his services.
Recently there were rumours that Key might follow Max Verstappen to the senior Red Bull Racing team, while other reports have linked the 44-year-old Briton to a move to Ferrari.
However on Thursday, Key made it clear that he had no plans to move anywhere in the foreseeable future.
“I’ve got a contract with Toro Rosso for some time to come, and there’s a lot of work to do still,” he said.
“I’m not thinking about anything else at the moment. I want to stick with where I am. It’s a great group of people to work with and there’s still plenty to do, so for now I’ll be a Toro Rosso.”
Key is certainly being kept busy managing the development of Toro Rosso’s 2017 car following the FIA decision to bring in significant technical regulation changes for next season, and balancing those requirements against the need to continue to keep the 2016 car at peak performance.
“To be honest, the birth of the ’17 regs, if you like, was always a little bit long-winded and so we had a pretty good idea what the chassis direction was likely to be from a tyre and suspension viewpoint, at least dimensionally but we took a little while to try to define the aero regs and the bodywork regs.
“Everyone’s had a start-point, which is maybe a little later than you’d want for a very fresh set of regulations. But there was still plenty you could do on the principals of a ’17 car beforehand, so we’ve been working on it for several months, as I’m sure everyone else here has.
“Certainly on the aero side there’s a pretty massive impact from all of this, so there’s a big emphasis from us on the aero side. The same with simulation. The design office is yet to really pick up the big bits but certainly by after the August break they’ll be pretty much 100 per cent on next year’s car.
“The tyres are a big player in this – but equally I think we’re still in a period where power units are developing quite quickly.
“I think it’s bringing teams a little bit closer together but still maintaining maybe a bigger development rate than we expected. And the guys at the front of that race are maybe having to pull out the stops a little more than they expected.”
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