The other Italian team will enter their second full season in Formula One this year, and with a seasons experience under their belts the Red Bull owned Scuderia Toro Rosso team will be looking to move forward and gain more points. They have a new engine partner, better funds and lots of passion. But is it conceivable that the little ‘Bull can improve on last years woeful results? Let’s take a look at the 2007 squad and see…
Last year, Toro Rosso controversially ran with limited V10s, something that had the other teams up in arms. As it turned out, the limitations put in place (reducing air going into the engine) worked well and the team didn’t blitz the speed traps as expected. However, now the team has settled in F1, they will be running V8s, and not just any old V8s – the team have managed to acquire the use of Ferrari engines. Red Bull Racing used the Ferrari units last year, but wanting to move to the Renault engines, palmed the Ferraris off on to Toro Rosso after much negotiating with Jean Todt. This is welcome news for Gerhard Berger and his team, and should be considered as a major step forward over the Cosworth engines the team partnered with in 2006.
Toro Rosso aren’t the only team using Ferrari power though, as nearest rivals Spyker will also run with Italian grunt, and this fact alone will help to ensure a close battle between the two back runners.
Is their anything else that will help STR out with the close competition? Well, the team have slightly more experience than Spyker, and although their factory in Faenza is a little on the small side, they do have use of facilities in the UK. Toro Rosso also have the benefit of being owned by Red Bull, a company that is fast becoming a major player in F1 with their main team. While Berger has been stating that STR needs to fend for themselves and provide their own budget, I’m sure some cash/personnel will filter down to the kiddy team.
Toro Rosso spent most of the winter, it seemed, mulling over their driver options. With Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi hoping to extend their own contracts for a further year, they faced stiff competition from F1-hungry test drivers and even multiple ChampCar champion Sebastian Bourdais. However, the Christian Klien rumour was quashed when the Austrian signed for Honda as a tester, and Bourdais insisted on seeing out his contract in America.
So Toro Rosso will continue with both drivers from last year, and although it makes sense to maintain consistency, neither Liuzzi nor Speed exactly set the track alight during 2006.
The final piece of the jigsaw would have to be the car. While each team must design and produce their own chassis, it doesn’t go unnoticed that the new Rosso looks remarkably similar to the new Red Bull, penned by Adrian Newey of Williams and McLaren fame. Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger insist the car is their own, but the similarities are too frequent for coincidence.
So will 2007 see Toro Rosso move up the grid? The chassis hasn’t been doing too well in testing, but it is important to note that Liuzzi and Speed managed to go faster than both Red Bull’s in the final two days in Bahrain. If the Red Bull chassis turns out to be less than almighty, I’m sure Red Bull will plough money into improving it, and the modifications will surely get passed down in time. So it looks as though STR could go a little better than last year, but ultimately, I cannot see the team getting any more than a handful of points.
2007 Constructors Prediction: 10th