F1 2016 review: Power struggles for Toro Rosso
Motorsport.com's experts rate the Formula 1 teams' performances during the 2016 season. Today: Toro Rosso, which spent the year trying to make up for the lack of power from its year-old engine.
By Giorgio Piola and Matt Somerfield
Toro Rosso was somewhat of a technical star in 2016, as it was one of only two teams to come up with a more aggressive version of the 'S' duct, the other being Mercedes.
However, it also continued to inspire others, with its neat rear wing endplate louvre solution studied and used by others later in the season.
The open-ended louvres displace the airflow that collides at the juncture between the flaps and endplate, as they look to improve both downforce and reduce drag.
This comes off the back of its intersecting rear wing pillar which first featured on the STR10 and made its way onto the Ferrari SF16-H, Haas VF16, Sauber C35 and McLaren MP4-31.
Jon Noble - 6
A season of incredible highs and lows for Toro Rosso, as it battled through with a year-old Ferrari engine that steadily lost out in the horsepower stakes to the opposition.
The strength of its chassis helped deliver some real strong performances though, as Carlos Sainz did not let the disappointment of not getting the Red Bull nod affect him.
He should have had a podium in Monaco, but his clear ability, allied to the step up that Renault power should bring in 2017, is something that gives the outfit reason to feel confident.
Oleg Karpov – 6
For many years Toro Rosso has been aiming to finish the season in the top five in the the constructors' championship and this year it was very close to the target. James Key's STR11 was a very good car, and we've seen its potential on tracks like Monaco and Singapore, but a lack of horse power with last year's Ferrari engine cost the team badly.
Red Bull's decision to change drivers mid-season also did not help, as it took Daniil Kvyat a few months to adapt to the car and rebuild his confidence.
Glenn Freeman – 8
The thought of a Toro Rosso chassis with a competitive engine powering it is tantalising. The car was obviously a tidy package until its 2015 engine fell too far behind, and the mid-season disruption of losing Max Verstappen for the 'damaged goods' of Daniil Kvyat was clearly unsettling.
But Carlos Sainz Jr did a phenomenal job in the lead car – his only problem is the quality of the drivers in Red Bull's A-team at the moment.
Kate Walker – 7
Although overlooked by Helmut Marko when Max Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull, Carlos Sainz was a strong performer in 2016, giving Toro Rosso two sixth-place finishes, and scoring points in 10 races.
His consistency in the midfield won him applauds, as did his drive in the wet at Interlagos, where he was matching the laptimes of Max Verstappen's Red Bull despite having qualified two seconds per lap slower.
In the other car, Daniil Kvyat took some time to recover from his Red Bull demotion, but found his mojo again in Singapore, where he said he'd "left [his] soul on the track".
Pablo Elizalde – 7
Having to use a year-old Ferrari engine was always going to hurt the team, especially as the season progressed.
It still managed to extract a lot from it, although the issues it had after it introduced its B-spec chassis meant it lost more than a few chances of scoring points. With a capable design team and a current engine, it should be in better shape next year.
Guillaume Navarro – 7
The Faenza-based team certainly didn't get the credit it deserves: McLaren's progress and Haas's debut sometimes stole the show. Toro Rosso had to deal with an in-season driver change, losing a star in Verstappen for a mentally-thrashed Kvyat.
With a year-old Ferrari engine that was picked up quite late, 2016 still was a good year. The team is now back with Renault and can learn from Red Bull Technologies' data.
Erwin Jaeggi – 6
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost was very clear about the target for this season: finishing fifth in the constructors' championship. So seventh in the end is a huge disappointment. Of course, the driver swap didn't help the Faenza-based team. Not that Daniil Kvyat is a bad driver - he just needed time to adapt to the new situation and to his new car.
The fact that Toro Rosso was running a year-old Ferrari engine also made things increasingly more difficult as the season was nearing its end. Switching to Renault for 2017 and keeping Carlos Sainz and Kvyat behind the wheel should give STR better opportunities next year.
Jacobo Vega - 7
With Toro Rosso it's the same story every year: James Key is very capable of designing a great car, but the lack of budget makes it very difficult to progress during the season.
This year was even more difficult with a 2015 Ferrari engine, but still the team could produce very good results. I think Carlos Sainz did a very good job and he showed that he's a driver who deserves a chance in a better team, hopefully in 2018.
Final score: 6.75/10
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