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F1 2016 Team Preview: Toro Rosso

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Having lived in the shadow of Red Bull as the ‘B’ team for many years, last year Toro Rosso arguably had its strongest season since Sebastian Vettel raced for it in 2008.

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. may have forged the youngest driver pairing in the history of Formula 1, but both proved themselves to be more than capable of racing at the highest level. At just 18 years old, Verstappen’s debut campaign was of particular note.

Change is on the horizon for 2016 with Ferrari joining as a power unit supplier. Can Toro Rosso upset its parent team this year? Or will it be another season of subservience in the midfield?

TEAM: Scuderia Toro Rosso
ENGINE: Ferrari
CAR: Toro Rosso STR11

2015 STATS

Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 67
Laps Led: 0
Drivers’ Championship Positions: 12th (Max Verstappen); 15th (Carlos Sainz Jr.)
Constructors’ Championship Position: 7th

2016 LINE-UP

33. Max Verstappen (NED)
55. Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP)

2015 TEAM RECAP

Despite the struggles with its Renault power unit and the relative inexperience of Verstappen and Sainz, Toro Rosso enjoyed a hugely successful season in 2015. The team may have failed to hit Franz Tost’s pre-season target of fifth in the constructors’ championship, but it was a firm part of the midfield throughout the year. Highlights came in Hungary and the USA where Verstappen finished fourth, taking advantage of two crazy races, while Sainz was impressive throughout the year, even if his final points haul was dampened by some bad luck. 2015 was the best season for Toro Rosso since Vettel’s breakout year with the team in 2008 – a tough act to follow.

2016 OUTLOOK

After making a late switch to the 2015-spec Ferrari power unit for 2016, even making it to the first test was a big achievement for Toro Rosso. That both Sainz and Verstappen were able to lay down some serious mileage with good pace is a very positive sign for the season ahead. Although there will be no updates to the Ferrari engine throughout the season, if the team can pick up some big results early on, then it could yet be another breakthrough year. Verstappen will be aiming to build on his incredible debut campaign, while for Sainz, 2016 is about proving he is just as capable as his junior teammate. A big year awaits all at Toro Rosso.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.