Toro Rosso flies to the United Arab Emirates in ninth place in the Formula 1 World Championship, putting the minnow squad on-course for its lowest position since 2012.
… when the Ferrari-powered STR7 was raced by Jean-Éric Vergne - and Daniel Ricciardo in his full-time debut…. after 11 races with HRT in 2011.
SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
TORO ROSSO, 2012-2013:
“Last year was a bit chaotic, coming in and with the team just getting thrown into my first F1 race.”
But, while Toro Rosso can claw back to eighth, should it outscore Sauber by 10 points in Abu Dhabi - it may find it tough to do so - with the squad a testbed for Honda - and final-round upgrades likely ahead of the Japanese manufacturer’s impending partnership with top squad Red Bull Racing.
… forcing grid penalties for any new power unit components installed.
Of course, Toro Rosso’s year has been a necessary write-off for the good of the energy drinks brand in F1, and its long-term competitiveness.
SOUNDBITE (English) FRANZ TOST,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, TORO ROSSO:
“We built up a completely new car, with the [all] new power unit from Honda, which is integrated quite well with a really good cooperation with Honda.”
Next season, though, could see an upswing in performance - with Honda signing a deal with Japanese industrial firm IHI to accelerate development of its turbocharger…
Reliability will be crucial with both cars using eight engines, turbochargers and MGU-Hs this year so far…. and just three allocated. It also went over the two allocated MGU-Ks, energy stores and control electronics.
Stability, though, will be affected by a new driver line-up, with Daniil Kvyat replacing Pierre Gasly - and rumours on Brendon Hartley’s exit, with F2’s Alexander Albon said to be in the frame.
It’s the final round of a difficult season for one of F1’s smallest teams, but it’s been one of short term pain for long term gain.