12 points on the board, two bright talents behind the wheel and one of the best looking cars on the grid, 2015 has started well for the team from Faenza. Despite their first and only race victory dating back to 2008, when Sebastian Vettel’s heroics in Monza confirmed his status as a World Champion of the future, (how right we were), the team have slowly worked their way to the front of the ever competitive midfield. Their aspiration to finish with fifth place in the constructors seems very achievable.
Toro Rosso’s pre-season was less characterised by a buzz word, but instead a buzz number – 37 – the combined age of drivers Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, who form the youngest driver line-up in F1 history. However, after an opening three rounds in which mistakes have been at a premium and impressive displays in surplus, attention has turned away from their respective age’s and instead to their talent, and quite rightly so.
Both have extracted a high level of performance out of the STR10. It was a car which looked fast even before it hit the track for the first time, with beautifully aggressive side-pods and a nose to match. A good looking car does not always go fast, but in this instance, it seems that the team have hit the sweet spot.
Credit then, to Technical Director James Key and his team of engineers. Key gave some intriguing insights into Toro Rosso’s road map during the Team Personnel’s Press Conference in China. “We’ve had a kind of three-year plan really of trying to get the team from A to B,” he stated. “A was where it was a couple of years back, which is not where we wanted it to be, and B is next year I suppose.”
Key joined the team in September 2012 and since then, the outfit has climbed up the constructors table, moving from 9th in 2012 to 8th in 2013, and on to 7th last season. It appears that this upward curve will continue in 2015, particularly considering that reliability has been a factor preventing an even larger points haul so far this season. Both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz have proved to be very capable drivers, with the former in particular standing out. The Dutchman has been my driver of the day in both Malaysia and China, despite his failure to finish in Shanghi.
This is certainly a hugely exciting time for Toro Rosso fans. It has been a great start to the season and the fact that attention has turned so quickly to effective engineering and talented drivers instead of the little brother status and birthdays is a credit to everyone at Faenza.
Image Credit: "Barcelona Test 3 Day 2" By Rachel Clarke via Flickr [CC-BY-2.0]