Toro Rosso have been going through a tough phase in their season with the disadvantages of a 2015-spec power unit making it difficult for Carlos Sainz or Daniil Kvyat to challenge for valuable championship points. With recent reports declaring massive aero gains for 2017, will STR have two hot-seats next season?
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) October 11, 2016
It was expected that Toro Rosso’s points scoring form would eventually run out this season due to a lack of engine development. They’ve still provided heavy updates to the chassis of the STR11 to keep Sainz and Kvyat in the race but this hasn’t been enough to yield the results that Toro Rosso expect.
After the Japanese Grand Prix in which a weakness in straight-line speed frustrated the squad, Team Principal Franz Tost said,
“Starting from P13 and P14 made it a difficult race for us today. We simply don’t have the speed on the straight lines, something you certainly need to perform well. Both drivers did a good start and after the first lap we moved up to P11 and P12. Our pit-stops were also carried out well, but we lost time in traffic and therefore we were only able to finish 13th and 17th.
Fortunately, neither Haas nor McLaren scored any points, but of course the last four races of the season won’t be easy for us, because all the others made steps forward with the development of their Power Units – as we are out with last years’ specification, we simply face a disadvantage regarding speed… We just have to be focused and finish the season in a reasonably good way.”
– Franz Tost
Toro Rosso will be running the 2017 Renault power-unit next season alongside the works team and Red Bull Racing so could their focus on understanding their chassis effectively this season be a blessing in disguise for next year?
With Williams Chief Technical Director Pat Symonds calling the potential aero gains under 2017 regulations “staggering” after recent wind-tunnel tests, the focus on chassis updates will have more relevance next season. Symonds said,
“Every week in the windtunnel it’s just pulling downforce onto the thing, but I can’t believe we are alone on that. I’m sure that’s happening in 11 windtunnels around the world, so you just never know.
I read the daily reports and I’m like, ‘wow, how did we find that sort of amount?’ You sort of think that is going to be tailing off. Right now, it’s not really. Of course the slope isn’t quite what it was in the first month or so but it’s still remarkable.”
– Pat Symonds
Toro Rosso have only had a single points finish since the German Grand Prix back in July with Kvyat’s 9th in Singapore because other teams around them have been able to push on with power-unit token spends.
Carlos Sainz collected eight points finishes in the opening eleven races on the calendar but the second-helf of the season has been difficult. His last result was an 8th place finish in Hungary. After the Japanese Grand Prix, the Spanish driver said,
“A very disappointing race for me today. Even if we started well, managing to get past both Williams and enjoying a good race pace during the first stint, that all changed after the first pit-stop. We then dropped behind the two McLarens and from that point onwards our race was over, as we were just not able to overtake because of our low top-speed… It was just impossible!
I can assure you I tried my best, but today we couldn’t do more than this. It’s a frustrating situation to be in but we won’t give up. We will now get ready for the next races where hopefully we can be a bit stronger – rainy Sundays would also help!”
– Carlos Sainz
Despite the clear frustration, Sainz and a restored Kvyat remain determined to give their all before the season’s up. Possibly because Toro Rosso will be in a much better position with an up-to-date power-unit in the back for 2017 and a mindset fully focused on chassis updates in place.