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A personal review of the F1 year – Toro Rosso
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A personal review of the F1 year – Toro Rosso
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Jan 2011   |  3:36 pm GMT  |  34 comments

Toro Rosso, 0 wins, 0 poles, 9th in Constructors’ Championship

Probably the least talked about team in F1, I have to admit I’ve always found Toro Rosso a bit of an enigma. Why does Red Bull persist with owning a second team now that the rules prohibit the kind of chassis data exchange which used to make it a low overhead business and now that the main Red Bull team is competing at the highest level? Is there any scope for the team to grow and if so in what ways?

It has been for sale at various stages along the way and no doubt Red Bull would be willing to sell if the right kind of buyer came along to focus resources on Milton Keynes. The Toro Rosso team is well inside the limit for the Resource Restriction Agreement era, has reasonable facilities in Faenza, Italy and a wind tunnel in the UK. It’s not as attractive as Sauber, with its full scale wind tunnel and CFD facilities but it’s a proper racing team.

I can see why there were strong political reasons for the Red Bull team to buy the Minardi team from Paul Stoddart in 2005, it gave them a second vote and that proved important when it came to the teams’ vote on going to a single tyre supplier, which led to the departure of Michelin from F1. But the team doesn’t really feel like it has a sense of purpose or direction. It’s always in the shadow of the man Red Bull team and diverts resources away from it. Now the expansion of the grid with three new teams means that Red Bull’s share of the vote has been diluted to two of 12 votes


The model is based on young driver development – initially there was a push to develop a US driver, something both Red Bull and Formula 1 would dearly love. Scott Speed proved not to be the right guy and since then the team has developed Sebastian Vettel, now a world champion.

The 2010 season was Toro Rosso’s first year of making its own chassis and that inevitably came with a high price tag in terms of a learning experience. There were some scary moments, such as when Buemi’s wheels blew off under braking in China, but on the whole the team did a reasonable job given its resources. Engineering chief Giorgio Ascanelli oversaw the evolution of a car from the DNA of the previous year’s Red Bull, with a double diffuser, which became a blown diffuser in September, but never gained a raceable F Duct.

The year was very much one of making up the numbers for the team with Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari both having reasonable seasons, punctuated with the odd moment of brilliance and the odd howler, such as Buemi’s collision with Timo Glock in Korea.

Buemi had four points scoring finishes including an 8th in Montreal, while Alguersuari scored points three times, including a fighting drive to 9th in Abu Dhabi. It’s hard to evaluate how much of a success the season was for the team.


Alguersuari tended to qualify around P16/17 with an uplift towards the end of the year, including an impressive 11th on the grid in Singapore. Buemi was a place or two further ahead in general, but his performance tailed off in the final part of the season. Buemi started strongly, but the final third of the season saw the Spaniard getting the better of him to the point where some doubts were raised about whether he would keep his drive for next season.

With the next wave of young Red Bull talent coming through, led by Australian Daniel Ricciardo, the pressure is on Buemi and Alguersuari. Although the team confirmed both of them for 2011 during last season, the recent FIA entry list had TBA against both the teams’ race numbers. I think there’s a good chance we will see Ricciardo in one of the cars at some point in 2011.

Photos: Red Bull (top) & Darren Heath (Alguersuari)

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34 Comments
  1. jmv says:

    A smart buyer (with lots of money.. off course hard to find these days) would buy the assets of ToyotaF1 and merge with TR…

    Is nice to see the old Minardi team still surviving and those boys have a pole and a win at Monza under their belt! Thanks to some rain and a superb Vettel and Red Bull.

    Still one of the finest moments of F1 in the past decade.

    I am grateful to Red Bull for bringing this team back from the dead after Stoddart just did nothing with it.

    1. onyx says:

      Spot on…never saw why people thought Stoddart was so great…his team never had any money and was rubbish…

      1. John Gibson says:

        Without Stoddart stepping in to buy the team in early 2001, Minardi would have folded that winter and there would be no Toro Rosso now either. Remember that Arrows and Prost, two teams of a similar bent to Minardi, went under just a few months later. That was a hard period for the independents.

      2. onyx says:

        Would Minardi having folded been such a bad thing?!They didnt really add anything to F1 just like HRT etc now.

      3. Bim / Sweden says:

        Had it not been for Stoddart this team would have disapered. I think it’s a pitty they dont allow chasis to be sold to other teams as i love “Minardi” and 2009 was so fun.

      4. Nando says:

        That’s the great trick running a team with no money.

      5. Femi Akinz says:

        You might find this hard to understand but Operational expenses is still a cost to someone though the business isnt bringing anything in.

        Stoddart kept them ticking along at the very least

      6. Tom (london) says:

        Some good drivers cut there teeth at Minardi, Alonso had his first drive there.

      7. onyx says:

        I liked the old Minardi run by Giancarlo himself just not the Stoddart one who lest we forget ran such stellar drivers as Bruni,Baumgartner and Freisacher!

  2. Galapago555 says:

    “I think there’s a good chance we will see Ricciardo in one of the cars at some point in 2011.”

    Sure, he deserves it after his stunning performance at the young guns tests in Abu Dhabi a couple of months ago. I would put my money on him to get a seat soon.

    At the same time, I hope Jaime retains his car. He came from nowhere, with absolutely no kms driven before he joined the team during 2009 mid season, and his performance has been consistently improving since then, outqualifying his team mate by the end of the 2010 season. Hope he is given the chance to keep improving in 2011, and so he becomes a candidate to inherit Mark’s car in 2012!!

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      I think so too. Four!

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Ok, let’s wait for the Ferrari review… I bet we will have some disagreements!!

      2. Zobra Wambleska says:

        You’re probably right. Does that count as five?

    2. Nadeem says:

      My prediction will be Ricciardo comes in sometime in 2011 out races his team mate and gets the Red Bull seat if it becomes available in 2012 or he is picked up by Ferrari (as Massa may leave). Should Mark retire if he is still doing well? A bit bias yes.

    3. leukocyte says:

      Don’t forget also Ricciardo’s similar domination of young guns testing in 2009.

      It’s hard not to admire Alguersuari if only for being the most honest worker in F1 – consistently first or second car on circuit, every session, every race.

  3. Rich C says:

    I’ve frequently wondered about this team as well. Like “why” ?
    The only advantage I can see nowadays is Dieter has a disproportionate say in how fota is run. 3-car Monte should take a lesson – if he really wants to spend billions and dominate F1 he needs to create a junior team or two of his own.

  4. eddyr says:

    Don’t really see the point in them to be honest- surely they’d be better off sticking to raising new drivers through the lower formulae?
    It’s also a little confusing to the casual spectator- many a time I’ve watched a race with people who’ve commented “ooh there’s a Red Bull” only for me to correct them that it’s a Toro Rosso etc etc… It’s not as though Red Bull could get any more brand exposure than they did last year, Toro Rosso in this respect adds very little

  5. M Harries says:

    Are the recent rumours of an upcoming sale anything substantial, or just a continuation of the expectation that the team would be gladly sold if Red Bull got an offer at the right price?

  6. Peter says:

    It’s one of the things that makes f1 a mockery. Red Bull owning two teams is nothing short of ridiculous. As long as they are still owners of the Toro Rosso squad they will hinder it’s progress and development forward. Toro Rosso must be sold. In buying Minardi Red Bull sucked all the life and charm out of the team.

    1. Warren Groenewald says:

      I don’t know how you can say that. Minardi were very much at the back of the grid before Red Bull took over and at stages were even further behind in lap times than the new teams are.

      If anything, Red Bull have helped develop Torro Rosso into a regular points scoring outfit.

  7. Paul says:

    The trouble STR have is that they have the wrong two drivers in the team. Buemi and Alguersuari will never amount to much, whereas Ricciardo and Vergne both have the potential to be stars. It would be nice to see both get their chance before Red Bull inevitably sells the team.

    1. Lee R says:

      I think quite a few drivers would have had the potential to be a star before STR chewed them up and spat them out!

  8. Richard Bell says:

    In ’09 Alguersuari took part in the last 8 races (with no F1 experience) almost exactly where he improved last year, so he appears to be learning and may step up a gear from the start using his experience.

  9. A season of mixed emotions for STR obviously, I like their livery though – it’s much more fun than Red Bull, pics of STR cars normally look more stylish. Besides, it’s good to have at least a couple of teams based outside the UK to make it look more like a proper world championship where teams from many different countries compete. Having said that, with MotoGP, for instance, you get exactly the opposite as its dominated by Italian, Spanish and Japanese guys. Britain somehow managed to develop a solid foundation for F1-related activites.

    I like STR, both their drivers are doing what any F1 driver should – concentrate on driving and do less talking. All in all, a normal season for them, could’ve been a bit better because the points difference to Sauber really says it all but you can’t always get what you want.

  10. Ryan Eckford says:

    2010 was a decent year for Toro Rosso considering that they built their own car this time.

    The categories that I measured the 2010 cars in include:
    Car Driveability, All Round Car Ability, Low Downforce Circuits, Medium Downforce Circuits, High Downforce Circuits, High Speed Circuits, Medium Speed Circuits and Low Speed Circuits.

    The categories in order of strength for the STR5 are:
    1. Car Driveability(8th)
    T2. High Downforce Circuits(9th)
    T2. Low Speed Circuits(9th)
    4. Medium Speed Circuits(8th)
    T5. Medium Downforce Circuits(9th)
    T5. High Speed Circuits(9th)
    7. Low Downforce Circuits(9th)
    8. All Round Car Ability(9th)

    Both Buemi and Alguersuari had solid decent seasons, but I think they could have done a little bit better. It is going to interesting to see which drivers they will have in 2011. Overall, a solid decent year for Toro Rosso in 2010.

  11. Robert McKay says:

    I don’t know if it’s so much “persist with owning” so much as it is “finding it hard to sell and get shot of”, frankly.

  12. PaulL says:

    Maybe STR is the space occupied for young drivers. It allowed them to capture and mature Vettel.

    Doesn’t look like they’re going to get too far with their current duo.

  13. Red5 says:

    You may have touched on the answer already.

    Even before the testing ban was introduced Red Bull put Vettel through Toro Rosso to give him experience and mileage under his belt.

    Other teams have to bite the bullet and give new drivers a race seat with the obvious uncertainty that goes along with zero track time.

    I’m surprised other teams [Ferrari + McLaren] have not considered running a second team in order to keep reserve/test drivers race ready.

  14. Declan says:

    Are Torro Rosso just a training ground for new drivers?

    What about finding the next Adrian Newey? Surely there are several members of his team who have ambitions to take full design control and rather than see them leave to another team, it might be more beneficial for Red Bull to have them sink or swim at the less pressured end of the grid.

    I would have also thought that one barrier to the sale of Torro Rosso would be that it is plonked in Italy which assumingly would be unappealing to some potential buyers (not in terms of nationalism, but more in terms of aligned strategies etc).

    Wouldn’t a more logical fit be found with Ferrari? They are always sounding off about 3rd cars and also have a driver academy in need of some proper F1 experience. Maybe one car could be a junior RB candidate, and the second a Ferrari young gun (with all the tie ups in engine, gearbox, space on car deals).

    Or is that idea unthinkable for the prestige of Ferrari being linked to a drink brand?

  15. Ross says:

    Interesting season ahead for Buemi and Alguersuari.

    I imagine this is Webbers last year at Red Bull and surely they will look to promote one of them to the senior team as a strong number 2 who wont cause the controversy that the Vettel and Webber controversy does.

    They could replace Webber with Daniel Ricciardo but I think it would be wiser for Ricciardo to get that year under his belt at STR before moving to the big time.

    I like that STR exist to give young drivers a chance. At any other mid grid team the current two drivers who had a strong if not unspectacular year Buemi and Alguersuari would be relying on bringing a lot of money to the table to keep there seats.

    In a era of limited testing throwing young drivers at the deep end can ruin a career (Romain Grosjeans name comes to mind) I’d rather see a few more STR’s with young drivers learning there trade on the grid rather than teams like HRT with pay drivers who have had there shot before.

  16. d-d says:

    Toro Rosso is the best team without clear leadership and so the best to invest in. I hope gossips about Villenueve are coming true.
    It is waste of time and effort if they keep continue this no ambition no idea direction as in 2010.

    1. Bernd Rosemeyer says:

      I don’t think Villeneuve will come up with the money to buy STR. I don’t think he has the dedication a team principal needs either. He was a good driver while in his prime, but would he be a serious business man too?

  17. Bernd Rosemeyer says:

    I think STR had their finest moment when they pulled off that miracle in Monza (win from pole). And against strong opposition too. Looking at recent years, I can see only an FI win at Spa 09 running it close as an achievement, if it were to happen. Ferrari/McLaren/Red Bull wins are nothing magical nowadays, in fact you rather expect them to win these days. But STR winning, that was something incredible! STR will always be remembered for that win.

    1. Bru72 says:

      A fantastic win it was. I shall remember it for a long time.

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