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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Toro Rosso STR10 Sticks Its Tongue Out at Jerez


2015 Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10
With Lotus switching to Mercedes power and Caterham seemingly down and out, there are only two Renault-powered teams on the Formula 1 grid in 2015. One is the Red Bull, essentially Renault's factory team, the other is their junior team, Faenza-based Scuderia Toro Rosso, who have just unveiled the initial iteration of their new STR10 ahead of the first pre-season test tomorrow. For those who just misread the name for their new car, I regret to inform you that this is in fact not a Chrysler product and doesn't have a Dodge Viper's V10 engine in it. Sorry.

As the name suggests, this is their 10th car, built in the team's 10th year of existence after Red Bull bought out Minardi and turned them into their "B-team" for the purposes of getting young drivers in Red Bull's driver development program into F1 and ready to ascend to the main Red Bull team. Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and now Daniil Kvyat have all made it to the top team via Toro Rosso, so it does work. Sometimes.


Last year saw the team switch from Ferrari power (they live literally just down the autostrada from Maranello) to Renault power, to reflect the Red Bull car more closely. Having had a year to acclimatise to French power, they have given themselves plenty of time to make it all work better for 2015, with much more efficient cooling and overall packaging, and a generally more complex design than last year in order to make sure they don't slip behind Sauber to the back of the grid. Recently they've been saved from such a fate by Marussia and Caterham. Not any more...


In fact, the other Scuderia are targeting 5th in the constructor's championship this year, according to team boss Franz Tost. "We are ready to do our best to achieve it. Our engine partner Renault has also worked very hard to come up with new modifications and I'm sure that our joint effort will give us a package which will certainly be very competitive. All in all, we have a much stronger team as well as a very competitive STR10 and fast drivers; it's a great combination." Piloting this new machine will be the much-publicised 17-year-old Max Verstappen, who has gone from karting straight into one season of Formula 3 and then straight into Formula 1. This has sparked such outrage and concern that new rules regarding eligibility for the requisite Super Licence have been made tougher, to stop anyone else getting to the peak of motorsport quite so quickly. In fact, the minimum age is no 18, so Verstappen - son of former Benetton driver Jos "the boss" - could forever hold the record for the youngest F1 driver to enter a race. With Jean-Eric Vergne getting snubbed yet again by Toro Rosso and making do with a minor role at Ferrari this year, Maximum Verstappen's team mate will be 20-year-old Carlos Sainz Jr., son of double World Rally Champion, er, Carlos Sainz.

It's a weird world when the lineup of one F1 team (McLaren) are old enough that they could have fathered the lineup of another F1 team. In fact, the STR lineup's combined age of 37 is only two years older than just Jenson Button. Or Kimi Räikkönen, for that matter. Hell, Mark Webber's 38. Maybe youth and confidence can hack it in F1 these days? Daniil Kvyat put in some impressive performances in his rookie season last year. Maybe these two rookies can as well.


As well as looking approximately 100% less phallic than last year's STR9, the STR10's new nose is similar to that of the new Ferrari or McLaren... for now. Technical director James Key says that the team have taken a very developmental approach, with work already beginning on an aero package for the Australian Grand Prix in March. Even the new nose could be different by then. "I expect it will change. The plan for us - particularly for our new drivers - is to put mileage on. So we're not looking for peak performance or whatever in the first two tests, we want to get all the basics done as best as we can. Then in Test 3 we'll see the real STR10." For now the car will even run "last year's front and rear wings" and a slightly oversized heat vent at the back, just to ensure they can get the miles under their belt.

They will be hoping it all goes to plan. They used to be Minardi, and they wouldn't want to become this generation's equivalent...





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