F1 2017 Pre-Season Report: Toro Rosso
Ahead of the opening race of the 2017 Formula One season in Australia on March 26, we take a look at how each team is shaping up for the new campaign.
Here we assess what Toro Rosso are capable of this year.
HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2016?
It is easy to forget that Toro Rosso started 2016 with Max Verstappen as one of their drivers, given the impact he had at sister team Red Bull after being swapped for Daniil Kvyat.
Verstappen had posted points finishes in each of his opening three races and went on to claim a maiden victory in his first grand prix with Red Bull.
Toro Rosso were left with a frustrated driver in Kvyat, who struggled to adjust to life back at the junior side following his controversial demotion.
The Russian managed just four championship points after the switch, while team-mate Carlos Sainz's form tailed off having secured eight top-10 finishes in the opening 11 races, with Toro Rosso ending up seventh in the constructors' standings.
THE 2017 LINE-UP
Kvyat cut a dejected figure following his return to Toro Rosso last season and results did little to ease his mood. Having made the podium with Red Bull in China in round three, Kvyat found himself battling to hold on to his seat at Toro Rosso thanks to a string of poor performances. He will be looking to make a strong start to 2017 as he bids to prove his doubters wrong - a poor season could cost him his F1 drive.
Sainz was in danger of becoming something of a forgotten man at Toro Rosso amid the upheaval of last season. But the Spaniard, who finished 12th in the drivers' standings, outperformed Kvyat by 21 points and is one of the brightest talents in the sport. He showed great consistency in the early part of last season but will be keen to avoid the second-half slump that harmed his final ranking, although the use of a year-old Ferrari engine can take some of the blame for that.
THE TO-DO LIST
- Keep Kvyat happy. Poor Kvyat was difficult to watch at times last season. Whether it was in interviews or on the team radio, the Russian was not adept at hiding his feelings. But he appears intent on putting the fiasco behind him, saying last month: "What's happened last year has been locked in a safe, put under password and taken to another place."
- Adjust quickly. This is the third season in a row Toro Rosso have raced with a different engine, which will present its own challenges. At least they're used to change!
- Pat yourselves on the back for the nicest livery in F1 this season!
HOW WILL THEY FARE?
The team seem optimistic of being competitive this year and may find McLaren - plagued by problems in pre-season testing - easy to pick off, having finished 13 points behind them in the constructors' standings.
The leap to challenge Williams and Force India in the battle for fourth may be a bridge too far and they will be keen not to be caught out by any improvements from the likes of Renault and Haas.