[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] TORO ROSSO: BIG CHANGES

There’s plenty of change at Toro Rosso this year.

A new name in Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda.

A new works power unit deal with the Japanese manufacturer – one that is already paying dividends, following a perfect shakedown test at Misano in Italy last week.

And a new full-time driver line-up, in Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, though both drove for the team at the tail end of 2017.
Hartley, a former Red Bull reserve driver, returns for his first full campaign, the New Zealander a two-time World Endurance Champion and Le Mans winner – his hybrid systems experience at Porsche, invaluable.

SOUNDBITE: (English) BRENDON HARTLEY,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
"A massive opportunity for me and, yeah, looking forward to taking a full crack at a Formula One season. I think these four races for me were, very important to start off a full Formula One campaign."

Gasly, a long-time Red Bull protege, is also ready to take the plunge on a full-time drive after five events for the team last year – with the Frenchman a razor-sharp competitor behind the wheel.

SOUNDBITE (English) PIERRE GASLY,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“Of course, I am kind of an aggressive driver. So I am always, I like to push to the limit. And it is difficult for me to really calm me down when I am in the car. Because as I said I am aggressive, so I need to go the opposite way during the races.”

Gasly drove in Malaysia and Japan, and then the final three races, 12th in Brazil his high point. Hartley joined from the USA, 13th there his standout result – with DNFs in Mexico and Brazil due to power unit issues.

Both drivers, though, placed ahead of where they started on the grid in all races they completed, which shows strong racecraft.

Over at Barcelona, the year started well… with the team unveiling its new STR13, before Hartley completed the day eighth fastest, 93 laps done, with none of the issues that affected McLaren last season.

So the Italian squad has reason to feel bullish, with team principal Franz Tost confident a top-five in the constructors’ standings is achievable.

“From fourth onwards, everything is possible because Force India is running with a similar budget to us, Williams as well,” he said.