F1 2015 Preview: Toro Rosso

2014 Statistics

Constructors Championship: 7th
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Pole positions: 0
Points finishes: 12

The cycle has re-started at Toro Rosso following the promotion of Daniil Kvyat to Red Bull Racing. Red Bull’s junior team have a history of running young drivers for a couple of seasons and then either promoting them to the ‘big’ team or letting them go. The likes of Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Jean-Eric Vergne are examples of promising young drivers who failed to make the cut and as a result are no longer on the grid.

For 2015 Toro Rosso enter the season with the youngest driver line-up. 17 year old Max Verstappen was the first driver to be announced and Sebastian Vettel’s departure for Ferrari kicked off the chain of events which resulted in Carlos Sainz getting the second Toro Rosso seat. Sainz was in the running for the vacant Toro Rosso seat last year but at the time Team Principal Franz Tost suggested he was too young at 19 years old. It appears Toro Rosso have turned their back on this philosophy, however, in the signing of Verstappen.

Last year Toro Rosso picked up 12 points finishes on the way to a distant seventh in the championship. Their 30 points were enough to put them 20 clear of Lotus. Their best finish of the year was sixth place at the Singapore Grand Prix thanks to Jean-Eric Vergne. For this season the team have taken a side step for Ferrari engines to Renault engines to match ‘senior’ team Red Bull. They had a solid pre-season testing, completing 1206 laps over three tests – the third highest number across all the teams. They have put the Renault engine through its paces, with both Verstappen and Sainz completing a race weekend’s worth of running in the first test with an engine specification which was very close to the one they will run in Melbourne.

All eyes will be on Verstappen in Australia as the youngest ever driver to make his F1 debut. He is just 17 years old and the debate over his age has lead to new regulations being introduced for 2016. The son of former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen, Max is no stranger to winning. He took ten wins on his way to third in the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship. He also had a highly successful career in karts before making the switch to single seaters. He made his Toro Rosso debut in Free Practice at the Japanese Grand Prix and instantly impressed by going 12th fastest.

He will be joined by Carlos Sainz – another son of a race car driver. Having missed out on the opportunity to race for the team last year, Sainz was soon rewarded with the opportunity following Kvyat’s promotion to Red Bull. He won Formula Renault 3.5 last year driving for DAMS, winning seven races on his way to the title. He also won the 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 title and finished tenth in the 2013 GP3 championship. His single seater career has been much more extensive than his new team-mate’s so he will have to perform to impress.

Both drivers have a lot to prove and Toro Rosso will be hoping to move up the order or at least secure more points finishes. The team – who will this year celebrate their tenth season in the sport – have lofty ambitions for 2015, aiming for fifth in the championship. They believe they have a car capable of taking them there but it remains to be seen where it will feature.

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