Haug fears Toro Rosso can reach podium
|By Jonathan Noble
||Thursday, March 9th 2006, 11:05 GMT
The controversy over the competitiveness of Scuderia Toro Rosso's V10 engines looks set to escalate this weekend with Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug predicting the team could even finish on the podium in Bahrain.
Red Bull's junior team have been the focus of complaints from rival outfits for much of the winter, amid fears that their restricted V10 may have the edge over V8s, and Haug claims that the matter will likely reach a head in Bahrain.
Speaking ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season, Haug said he believed that the FIA's equivalency rules between the two engine types had not gone far enough because he believed the V10 was as much as 70bhp more powerful than some V8 engines.
"Toro Rosso have more horsepower - that is not a secret," said Haug. "It could be up to 10 percent more. They also have more torque.
"But I am not criticising that. They were strong in testing here and they can go for a podium here, I am convinced."
Haug was keen not to stand out as critical of the FIA engine restrictions in place – but he made it clear that he was not the only one who believed Toro Rosso could surprise.
"At the end of the day, the FIA said it was going to regulate this engine. They will have an advantage. Am I screaming and shouting? No. But if people ask me whether they have an advantage then I have to say yes.
"Due to our calculations they do (have an advantage). Look at the car. If it's not the Red Bull, it is very similar to last year's car. Look at the tyres, the reliability, and the tests they have done. These are factors."
Should Haug's predictions come true, and Toro Rosso shine in Bahrain, then it would likely lead to a number of complaints from rival teams – several of whom are unhappy about the limitations on the V10.
And although Midland have so far been most critical of the situation, McLaren boss Ron Dennis has even said he would likely speak out if Toro Rosso starting taking points off his team.
"There are some strong opinions," said Dennis. "I think that the engine experts seem to believe the equivalency is wrong. There are the torque benefits, because the constraint influences power but not torque and the problem with a low-capacity V8 is torque related. Even if you get the power right you are still going to have an advantage.
"They are not in a particularly competitive car or have particularly competitive drivers, but they should be very reliable. And who knows, if they start to pick up points then I am sure there are those people subjected to the loss of points who will probably be very vocal about the fact. If it is us, I will be."
FIA president Max Mosley made it clear last month, however, that he believed the FIA's rev-limit and air intake restriction had done a good enough job in making the performance of the V10 and V8s similar.
"We have got an open mind, but we think it (the V10) is sufficiently below a competitive engine," he said. "So it (the V10 restriction) has achieved its purpose."