February 26, 2017 / 7:14 PM / 6 months ago

Motor racing-Toro Rosso aiming for best-ever fifth

BARCELONA, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso looked forward to a new engine partnership with Renault on Sunday while setting themselves up as rivals to the French carmaker's own works Formula One team on the track.

Team principal Franz Tost told reporters, after unveiling the new-look Renault-powered STR12 car in the Circuit de Catalunya pitlane, that a best-ever fifth place in the constructors' championship was again the target.

Renault, ninth last year with Toro Rosso seventh while using a year-old Ferrari engine, set the same goal at their launch on Tuesday.

"I am convinced that our new car works well, we have with Renault a fantastic engine partner, we have two experienced drivers for the first time in the history of Toro Rosso...I am convinced we will have a good season," said Tost.

The Toro Rosso lineup sees Spaniard Carlos Sainz starting his third season with the team and Russian Daniil Kvyat, after his demotion from Red Bull Racing last year, embarking on his fourth.

The metallic silver and blue car introduces a new look, with the previous one being painted red, dark blue and gold, in the team's first major livery change in 12 years.

"If the car is as fast as it looks, then I am more than happy," said Tost.

The car's front end looks similar to the one presented by champions Mercedes at Silverstone on Thursday but Toro Rosso's highly regarded technical director James Key said that was just a happy coincidence.

"I looked at the Mercedes and thought 'Ah, OK. They've got our front suspension," he told reporters. "Most people will say we've got Mercedes' front suspension.

"The nose is similar, the front of the side pods is similar, even the bodywork of the side pods is similar...let's just hope the engines are similar," he added.

"On the one hand we were pleased to see someone else has done a similar thing; on the other hand we were disappointed that we weren't the only team to think of something. There's many different concepts out there, actually."

Toro Rosso carried out a limited mileage promotional filming day at the Misano circuit in eastern Italy on Wednesday but media reports said track time was limited because of an engine problem.

The team gave no details on Sunday but played down any negative impressions.

"We went there to film and take pictures and run the car and we did all three," said Key. "And we were running at the end of the day." (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Neil Robinson)

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