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
CAR: Toro Rosso STR11
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Drivers’ Championship Positions: 12th (Max Verstappen); 15th (Carlos Sainz Jr.)
Constructors’ Championship Position: 7th
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.
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.