MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 14: Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrates with Red Bull tycoon Dieter Mateschitz (C) and Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost (L) in the paddock after winning the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on September 14, 2008 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel; Dieter Mateschitz; Franz Tost

Tost on Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Sainz and Lawson

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 14: Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrates with Red Bull tycoon Dieter Mateschitz (C) and Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost (L) in the paddock after winning the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on September 14, 2008 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel; Dieter Mateschitz; Franz Tost

Franz Tost is in charge of AlphaTauri (formerly known as Scuderia Toro Rosso) for the final time this weekend, the longstanding team principal heading into retirement and this is what he had to say of some of the sport’s great drivers he has worked with over two decades.

It’s 67-year-old Tost’s 351st Grand Prix as boss of Red Bull’s F1 junior team. A springboard for F1 drivers with aspirations to drive for the big team. A journey that began at the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix after billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz saved Minardi from oblivion to create Toro Rosso.

More than 20 drivers have passed through Tost’s tutelage, including the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and other drivers he has managed over the years in charge. Drivers chosen by him, by Helmut Marko, and handed to the Austrian to develop and prepare for Red Bull.

Regarding his time with great F1 drivers, in a Beyond the Grid interview, Tost recalled: “At the beginning, of course, Sebastian. He really, really took everything seriously. And he was very disciplined. He took care of every small detail, not only from the driving side but also from the nutrition side. From the training side. He caught me many times and we discussed different topics. He lived 360 days of F1.”

Vettel famously won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix for Toro Rosso, beating the Red Bull senior team to the first victory for Mateschitz’s organisation. The German drove 25 times for the junior team before he got the call-up to Red Bull. There he won his four F1 world titles, winning 112 GP in RBR colours.

Tost: Max because of his unbelievable speed

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - OCTOBER 07: 2023 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates with his team in the Pitlane after the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Lusail International Circuit on October 07, 2023 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202310070598 // Usage for editorial use only //

Clearly, the sport’s current King, triple F1 World Champion Verstappen has a special spot in Tost’s heart: “Max! Max because of his unbelievable speed. When we brought him to F1, I remember back media came to me and said: You’re totally crazy. How can you run a driver without a normal car license? they asked.

“At the time, I said: “Sorry, I don’t want to discuss this with you now come in five years, and then we can discuss it. Because I got tired of defending our decision, he had unbelievable natural speed in all conditions. You could see sometimes in F3. I remember in the wet, I thought Max was driving on a dry line. On a track with a lap time of 50 to 53 seconds per lap, he was two seconds faster than the rest.

“We did a test in Italy, and he was on another level and it was immediately clear he was one with the car. He adopted immediately the speed the brakes, everything. This was the big advantage for Max, he did not have a problem with the speed.

“Other drivers need 10 laps, 20 laps, 100 laps… depending on whether he is a learner or not until they adapt the speed or do the brakes and everything. Max was sitting in there and he had it under control from day one and that’s very important. Then we said okay, he should do the free practice in Suzuka, I think was his first free practice.”

Verstappen impressed from the first day he sat in a Toro Rosso cockpit

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 02: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Scuderia Toro Rosso attends a seat fitting ahead of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 2, 2014 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Max Verstappen // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI201502241430 // Usage for editorial use only //

“And then once again, on one of the most difficult racetracks, he just went out and did the job without any problem,” recalled Tost. “Then the second one was, I think in Sao Paulo. I don’t remember exactly the number of the corner, five or six… He had the oversteer. He lost it a little bit but he caught the car without any problem.

“He was not surprised by the speed. He had it under control. And that’s the size if this was really impressive. With so few laps, how he immediately got the speed. He was 17, but it was clear. That’s just a number on a birth certificate. And then the next important factor for Max. He had his father on his side. And you know, Jos was a successful F1 driver and he taught his son everything.

“If you told Max something, he understood immediately what you meant. And he immediately went out with the car and tried it, whether it worked or not. He tried it. And then he decided, yes, it’s good or No, it’s not good. And that’s very important. Other drivers. They need three or four laps. He knew immediately and this was really really impressive,” ventured Tost.

Tost: Sainz is one of the best drivers in F1

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND, JULY 18: Carlos Sainz Jr of Spain talks with team prinipal Franz Tost as he prepares to drive for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team during the young drivers test at Silverstone Circuit on July 18, 2013 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Carlos Sainz is a driver that Toro Rosso recruited starting the 2015 season as Verstappen’s teammate. When the time came for promoting one of the two, to replace an out-of-sorts Daniil Kvyat, teammate to Daniel Ricciardo at the time, Red Bull opted for Max, and the rest as they say is history.

That history shows that Sainz moved on to Renault, then McLaren and now resides at Ferrari. Tost said of the Spaniard he worked with: “Carlos is also a skilled driver, but the natural speed is not on the level of Max. But Carlos is a very hard worker,  a very clever driver and has reached real, very high level.

“For me currently he is one of the best drivers in F1 and you could see it coming back in those days. He is not a driver whogets on it and is immediately fast. He needs more laps but then he analyzes everything. He works on his deficiencies and therefore he has reached the level he is at nowadays.”

For his last season in charge, Tost is working for Red Bull’s Prodigal son: Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian whose early career and F1 debut was funded by Red Bull. He spent 2012 and 2013 at Toro Rosso.

Tost continued: “Daniel is also a skilled driver. His great qualities are more on the technical side and how to set up the car. He also really asked him many, many questions. He also has a very good feeling for the car and gives really good feedback on what the car is doing. In those days, at Red Bull, sometimes he was quite close to Max.”

Tost: If we provide Ricciardo with a good car he will be there

formel-1-tost-ricciardo

Now, a decade later, fittingly Ricciardo is back for Tost’s last race: “Daniel is much more mature now. He is still very fast. I think he needs the trust of the team and to trust the car. We will see, up to now he did only a few races with us. Unfortunately, he was injured at Zandvoort in this heavy accident.

“The level in F1 from the driving side is high. You don’t come in and just beat all the others, no way. You have to build it up step by step and hope that the car is competitive enough. If we provide him with a good car, he will be there.

“Remember, he blew Vettel away [2014 F1 season] as this was the first year with the new F1 Power Unit and needed another driving style. Also, we had the brake-by-wire system which was not so developed in those days, I think Sebastian suffered a little bit more with the rear until he got this under control.

“It took a little bit to get there because there were also many [Renault] Power Unit failures. They couldn’t do much testing, as they should have done so that Sebastian could trust the car. But Daniel in those days was younger and he got the hang of it faster, therefore, he showed a really good performance.”

Tost: Liam Lawson deserves to race in F1

So much speculation yet scant security around future full-time Formula 1  seat for Liam Lawson | Stuff.co.nz

Another driver who impressed Tost just recently is Liam Lawson. The New Zealander was called up to replace injured Ricciardo at short notice and most unexpectedly. He remained with the team for five races, subbing for Daniel.

Tost said of the 21-year-old: “Liam Lawson deserves to race in F1. He was put into the car at Zandvoort under very difficult circumstances, wet conditions, and dry conditions. It was his first outing with an F1 car on full wet tires, then he had to change to the intermediates and all the time managed everything without any mistakes.

He did a very, very good job and I must say in time he has also matured. I think this year in Japan has helped him a lot. He did a fantastic race in Singapore, not an easy track, which means he takes his physical training seriously. He deserves to be in Formula, 100%.”

As for the top two drivers he has worked with, the pair he would sign as F1 teammates in a hypothetical world, Tost has always said: “Of course, I say now Max Verstappen; I say Sebastian Vettel. They were the fastest otherwise, they wouldn’t have won so many races and championships.

“There were also other drivers who were not much slower, but maybe they were at the wrong time in the wrong team or whatever. BMax and Seb are the best, of course,” declared Tost.