Scuderia Toro Rosso - Always in the shadow of Red Bull Racing
Scuderia Toro Rosso is an Italian racing team which competes in the Formula 1 World Championship and operates as a junior team to Red Bull Racing.
Minardi became Toro Rosso
The team located in Faenza, Italy, was formed in November 2005 when Red Bull company bought Minardi (founded in 1985), one of the least competitive teams in Formula 1 but with a solid fans base worldwide. One of the clauses in the deal was to keep the team in Faenza at least two years. Even after 10 years, the team’s headquarters is still there. With an aim to keep alive team’s Italian heritage, Red Bull decided to translate its name to Italian and Scuderia Toro Rosso was born.
However, the Minardi fans weren’t happy with disappearing of their team and more than 15.000 signed an online petition to keep the name of Minardi, but their attempt was unsuccessful and new chapter in the history of the team could begin.
Former Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger became a team principal after buying a stake and led the team until 2008 when he sold stake back to Red Bull. The season of 2006 was the first for the new team. Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed were the drivers and the Italian was the first who scored a maiden point for the new team. He finished 8th in the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and thanks to that point won by Liuzzi, Toro Rosso finished 9th in the Constructors’ Championship.
In the following year, Toro Rosso switched from Cosworth to Ferrari engine and suffered through the most of the season. Liuzzi and Scott Speed again were the drivers, but results were poor after most of the races ended with the retirements. After European Grand Prix, Speed was dropped out of the team and replaced with the talented German Sebastian Vettel. The only race in which team was able to score points was the Chinese Grand Prix in which Vettel finished 4th and Liuzzi 6th. With 8 points, Scuderia Toro Rosso finished 7th in the Constructors’ championship.
First victory was scored in 2008
The season of 2008 was a much better, especially after the new STR3 chassis was introduced before Monaco Grand Prix. Vettel remained with the team, while the second driver was Sebastien Bourdais. The talented German had a very good season and even managed to score a maiden victory for the team, in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, after starting from pole position. On the other side, Frenchman scored only twice, both times finishing 7th.
At the end of the season, STR was 6th in the Constructors’ championship, in front of its ’older brother’ Red Bull Racing for the first and only time so far. Vettel finished 8th in the Drivers’ championship and at the end of the year he was promoted to Red Bull Racing with which he won four consecutive titles.
Toro Rosso struggled in the following three years
In 2009 the results weren’t any near to the previous season. Bourdais stayed with the team but in the middle of the campaign was replaced by Jaime Alguersuari, while Sebastien Buemi drove a full season in a #12 car. The Swiss driver did much better than his teammates and scored points in four races, with 7th place in Australia and Brazil as the best results. Bourdais twice was 8th but Alguersuari failed to pick a single point. The team dropped to the 10th place in the standings with just 8 points.
Alguersuari and Buemi remained the Toro Rosso drivers in 2010 but that season was pretty the same as the previous one. Only 13 points were scored, 8 by Buemi and 5 by Alguersuari, with the 8th place of the Swiss driver in the Canadian Grand Prix as the best result, while the team was 8th in the final standings.
The following year was just a slightly better. Buemi and Alguersuari were the drivers for the third year in a row, but this time Spaniard was the one with better results. They both scored in 7 races but Alguersuari’s results were better and he won 26 of 41 team’s points. Scuderia Toro Rosso ended 9th in the Constructors’ championship that year.
New drivers for the same ambitions
The results never were a priority for Toro Rosso. This team always was a good place for the youngsters to prove their talent and probably to secure a move to Red Bull Racing. Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne arrived at the team for 2012 season and both did considerably well. The Frenchman picked a total of 16 points, finishing 8th in four races. Ricciardo scored 10 points for his team but he was able to finish in points in six races, proving that he is maybe not faster than his teammate, but definitely more consistent. In the Constructors’ championship, the team achieved the same result like in 2011.
In 2013 Toro Rosso kept Ricciardo and Vergne as drivers. The team moved up to the 8th overall, mainly thanks to Ricciardo who proved his talent. Australian driver scored 20 of the team’s 33 points that year but the best result was Vergne’s 6th place in the Canadian Grand Prix. However, the form of Frenchman was really poor in the second half of the year after he failed to finish in points in 12 consecutive races.
Toro Rosso switched from Ferrari to Renault engine
In 2014 Ricciardo left the team as he progressed to Red Bull Racing. Vergne was teamed with Daniil Kvyat, but the biggest change was a new engine. After seven years running Ferrari 056 V8 engine, Toro Rosso switched to Renault 1.6 V6. Vergne remained as a driver for the third season and was partnered with Daniil Kvyat, young Russian who did well in GP3 Series and Formula 3.
Both drivers had many ups and downs during the season, but Vergne did better. He finished 13th overall, with 6th place in Singapore as his best result, while Kvyat was 15th, after scoring in five races what was a solid achievement for a rookie. The team ended 7th in the championship and the same position Toro Rosso will score in the next two years.
The star has arrived but left soon
Kvyat surprisingly joined Ricciardo in Red Bull Racing for 2015 season, while Vergne left the team seeking a new challenge. Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen were the drivers and despite both being very young and inexperienced, they scored 67 points what was the most in the team’s history. The Dutch teenager was especially impressive, particularly in the second half of the season when he failed to score only twice.
The season of 2016 again was pretty good for Toro Rosso which returned to old Ferrari engine. Sainz and Verstappen remained with the team, but the Dutch driver was promoted to Red Bull Racing after the Russian Grand Prix and interestingly won the Spanish Grand Prix on a debut with a new team! Kvyat was sent back in Toro Rosso and had a lot of problems until the end of the campaign, so Sainz was the one scored most of team’s 63 points.
Expect more of the same
In 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, Scuderia Toro Rosso will reunite partnership with Renault as an engine supplier, while Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat will remain the pair of drivers. However, we can expect some new talents guided by Dr. Helmut Marko in the foreseeable future.