2011 Season: Toro Rosso preview

VALENCIA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 01:  Drivers Jaime Alguersuari (R) of Spain, Sebastien Buemi (L) of Switzerland and reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) of Australia attend the unveiling of the new Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6 at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit on February 1, 2011 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jaime Alguersuari; Sebastien Buemi; Daniel Ricciardo

Toro Rosso line-up of Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi and reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo

Mar.20 (Daniel Chalmers) Looking ahead at the  2011 Formula 1 World Championship, which gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix weekend, at Albert Park in Melbourne with Free Practice 1 on Friday 25 March.

Race Debut: Bahrain 2006
Base: Faenza
Team Principal: Frank Tost
Technical Director: Giorgio Ascanelli
Race starts: 89
Championships: 0
Race victories: 1
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest laps: 0
Points: 69
Podiums: 4
Races led: 0

Strength: With Minardi DNA running throughout there is plenty of fight in this team. They are used to working with limited resources and funds.

Weakness: Aren’t ever going to be able to make big progress whilst they are still Red Bull’s little sister team.

2008 seems like a long time ago when Toro Rosso finished above their big sisters in the championship. However we should see some good progress from them this year.

2010 was difficult as it was the team’s first year as a full works constructor. Previously they had been using Red Bull Racing’s designs.

Therefore 2010 was a very difficult learning and transitional process. They had to learn how to use CFD to its full potential. They purchased a wind tunnel from Red Bull at a facility in Bicester but struggled to get it working .

With all this in consideration it was a very respectable season. Toro Rosso was comfortably ahead of the new teams and were still right up there with the midfield teams and scoring some points.

In their second year as a full constructor life should be much easier as they have improved their resources. They now understand their wind tunnel, and are now mastering how to use their CFD facility. They have started to adapt to life as an independant team.

Despite their limited budget the STR6 looks like a very neat car, and they have been more aggressive than they understandably were last year. They have even joined in with their rivals when it comes to innovating.

The STR6 features a double floor, and beautiful sweeping side pods. In testing Toro Rosso have occasionally been at the sharp end of the timesheets. The drivers insist that this pace is genuine, and not just down to low-fuel. Even Lewis Hamilton was quoted as saying that the STR6 is “ridiculously fast”.

At the moment it certainly looks like they are right up there, with the likes of Sauber and Williams at the very least.

The main question though is whether they can keep up in the development race with limited funds. That could potentially be a problem.

The other question about Toro Rosso is what the future holds for them. Clearly they are not as well supported by Red Bull as they were when they first started. With Red Bull now one of the front runners in F1, that is naturally where nearly all of the focus (and more importantly for Toro Rosso money) is now.

The main purpose has always been to use Toro Rosso to run drivers from the Red Bull young drivers development programme. Sebastian Vettel benefited enormously from driving for Toro Rosso, on his path to becoming champion for Red Bull.

If Red Bull can repeat this process with other drivers from the programme then the team are worth keeping.

However if Toro Rosso want to progress further in F1, then they really need to detach themselves from Red Bull, and attract a buyer. As we are seeing there is plenty of ability in this little team, and with much bigger support could go a very long way.

In conclusion it looks like Toro Rosso should have a very positive season, and score more points than they did in 2010. For Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari the pressure is on to perform, as the promising Daniel Ricciardo is waiting in the wings if either underperform.

Team Ratings:
Engine: 9
Drivers: 6
Aerodynamics: 5
Mechanical grip: 6
Reliability: 7
Pit Wall: 7
Total: 40/60

Verdict: I think Toro Rosso will punch above their weight in 2011. I think they have done very well despite their limited funds. I can definitely see them scoring more points and leapfrogging Force India in the standings, which would be a deeply impressive achievement. Imagine what they could do with better funds.

Constructor’s championship prediction: 8th

Compiled by Daniel Chalmers