The final car reveal for the 2017 F1 grid took place last Sunday with Toro Rosso launching their all new STR12. And by the looks of it, she’s going to be fast…
2016 could have been better for the Toro Rosso team. The squabbles in 2015 between parent company Red Bull and engine suppliers Renault massively disrupted STR’s plans. Chassis development was severely compromised, and the team only sorted out its engine deal towards the end of the year. Whilst Red Bull took Tag Heur branded Renault engines, Toro Rosso took Ferrari power – Except it was the 2015 Ferrari PU, and not the brand new one for the upcoming season. Perhaps the team were a bit naive on how much this would hurt them later on in the season, but it disguised what was still a good chassis.
“With driver continuity and a power unit which made a major step forward last year and which should be developing strongly this year, it just leaves the chassis as an unknown quantity.”
The technical team led by James Key has earned a lot of respect throughout the paddock. Indeed, the 2015 STR10 was second only to the Mercedes W06 through the high speed corners, Verstappen’s P2 in Monaco FP1 a real highlight and a performance that really raised eyebrows. Despite the team being much smaller in size compared to Red Bull, there is a genuine fear that the Faenza based squad could be a real thorn in the big boys side this year. With a driver like Carlos Sainz behind the wheel, this is entirely possible. Sainz put in many a great performance last year, including high-point finishes in Spain and Brazil. Daniil Kvyat, despite the psychological beating he took from the Red Bull demotion remains a fast and talented driver. His gritty performance and battle with Max Verstappen in Singapore showed this, and let’s not forget he put in a great drive in China last year to take Red Bull’s first podium of the season.
“We always set ourselves ambitious targets and this year, we are taking a more long-term view over the 20 races, with a long list of planned in-season developments. I suspect it will be a very busy year with plenty of performance still to be found.”
A brand new and improved Renault PU will aide the team, as it has had its first stable winter since 2014/15. The striking new livery is eye catching, and testing may reveal how fast this thing really is. There was a lot of excitement as the car was launched. Expect that excitement to continue as we head to Melbourne. Don’t be surprised if they are well within the top ten in qualifying, and who knows? Maybe they could fight for the podium in 2017 too.