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)