Existing as a proving ground for Red Bull’s young drivers, Toro Rosso has seen plenty of talent pass through its door since the team was founded in 2006. The team walks into the unknown with new engine partner Honda in 2018.
|First F1 Appearance||2006 Bahrain Grand Prix|
|Team Principal||Franz Tost|
Toro Rosso came into being in 2006 after Red Bull bought the Minardi team. Minardi had raced in Formula One since 1985, starting 340 Grands Prix and scoring 38 points over their time in the sport. Toro Rosso – Italian for Red Bull – exist as proving ground for drivers from Red Bull’s young driver programme. The team have seen plenty of talent pass through since its inception, with varying degrees of success. The team are based in Faenza, in northern Italy.
Despite using the previous year’s Red Bull car, in their maiden season Toro Rosso gave Red Bull a run for their money. Gerhard Berger became the Team Principal as Vitantonio Liuzzi scored the team’s first points. In 2007, original driver Scott Speed was dropped in favour of Sebastian Vettel after he impressed as a stand-in driver at BMW Sauber. China was a highlight of the year, as Vettel finished fourth and Liuzzi came home in sixth. For 2008, another Sebastien joined the team – Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais scored points on his debut, though the German had the measure of the Frenchman, and Vettel scored a pole and victory on an unforgettable weekend at Monza. The team became regular points scorers on their way to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, beating Red Bull in the standings. Vettel scored 35 of the team’s 39 points. Gerhard Berger sold his stake in the team back to Red Bull and Franz Tost became the new Team Principal for 2009. A new driver line-up followed as Vettel moved up to the main Red Bull team. He was replaced by yet another Sebastien, as Buemi became the first Swiss driver in F1 since 1995. It was a disappointing season for Toro Rosso. They finished last in the championship, and Bourdais was replaced mid-season by Jaime Alguersuari.
The team became a constructor in their own right, as they gained independence from Red Bull in 2010. Maintaining the previous season’s driver line-up, the team moved up to ninth in the championship, but ahead only of the three new teams. They moved up another position to eighth in 2011 before taking an all new driver line-up in 2012. At the hands of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne, the team scored 26 points, slipping back down the order to ninth overall. The car lacked pace in the early part of the season, but was regularly scoring points in the latter half of the year. The Italian team moved back up to eighth in 2013, with a sixth place finish in Canada for Vergne being the team’s best result. It was Ricciardo, though, who was chosen to replace Vettel at the main Red Bull team, and Vergne continued with Toro Rosso alongside GP3 champion Daniil Kvyat for the 2014 season.
As they switched to Ferrari to Renault power at the start of the hybrid era, the team found themselves scoring points at half of the rounds in the season, with Vergne’s sixth place in Singapore their best result. Kvyat was promoted to Red Bull for 2015, while Vergne was dropped from the Italian team, making way for Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen. Verstappen was given his first F1 outing during practice for the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix where he became the youngest ever driver to partake in a session during an F1 weekend.
Reliability issues hampered the team throughout the 2015 season, but the talent of their new driver line-up – the youngest in their history – shone through. After finishing seventh in the overall standings, the team kept the same driver line-up for the first four rounds of the 2016 season, before Red Bull snatched Verstappen, handing Kvyat back to the team after a spate of disappointing performances. Kvyat mustered up just four points from the next sixteen rounds, while Sainz took 42. The team finished seventh overall once again.
It was another year of mixing up driver line-ups for Toro Rosso in 2017. Starting the season with Kvyat and Sainz, the team ended with Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, as Kvyat was dropped from the Red Bull driver programme, and Sainz moved to Renault. Before he left, Sainz scored the best result of his career – a fourth place in Singapore – the team’s best result since 2008. Despite their new drivers facing terrible reliability issues in the final races of the season, the team managed to hold on to seventh for the fourth season in a row. Ironically, Kvyat, on his one-off return in America, scored the team’s only point from the last six rounds.
Toro Rosso had a new engine partner for 2018 – Honda. Hartley and Gasly remained with the team, as they slipped to ninth in the Constructors’ Championship. Despite the slip in championship position, the performance of the car was enough to convince the senior Red Bull team to switch to the Japanese manufacturer for 2019. There were a number of high points for Toro Rosso throughout the season, including Gasly’s fourth place at the Bahrain Grand Prix and an impressive qualifying result at Suzuka, Honda’s home track. Meanwhile, collisions between team-mates cost the team at the Chinese Grand Prix, while a near-miss between the pair in qualifying for the Azerbaijan race could have had very dramatic results.
2019 will be the second season of Honda-power for the Toro Rosso team, who will enjoy a tighter relationship with sister team Red Bull this year. On the driver front, it’s all change at the team for 2019, with Pierre Gasly moving up to the senior team and Brendon Hartley taking on a simulator driver role with Ferrari. Instead, Daniil Kvyat re-joins the Toro Rosso team for a third stint, after previously being dropped in the closing stages of the 2017 season. He’ll be joined by Alexander Albon – a former F2 racer, who is highly rated among his peers. Will they move back up the order this year?
TORO ROSSO’S RECENT F1 HISTORY
|2010||9th (13 points)||0||0||Sébastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari|
|2011||8th (41 points)||0||0||Sébastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari|
|2012||9th (26 points)||0||0||Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Éric Vergne|
|2013||8th (33 points)||0||0||Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Éric Vergne|
|2014||7th (30 points)||0||0||Jean-Éric Vergne, Daniil Kvyat|
|2015||7th (67 points)||0||0||Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz|
|2016||7th (63 points)||0||0||Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Daniil Kvyat|
|2017||7th (53 points)||0||0||Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley|
|2018||9th (33 points)||0||0||Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley|