Toro Rosso F1 2016 Review

Drivers: Daniil Kvyat – 14th, 4 points (plus 21 scored at Red Bull); Max Verstappen – 5th, 13 points (plus 179 scored at Red Bull); Carlos Sainz – 12th, 46 points

Best grid position: 5th – Verstappen, Australia
Best race result: 6th – Verstappen, Bahrain; Sainz, Spain, United States, Brazil

2016 World Constructors Championship Position (2015, 2014): 7th (7th, 7th)

Toro Rosso would enter 2016 as the only team on the grid with a year-old power unit. Despite this, big things were predicted for the Italian-based team, who were looking to finish higher than seventh for the first time this decade. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the team would start the season well with their two young superstars-in-the-making – Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. But as the year would progress, changes would occur within the team, and the age of the power unit would show.

Toro Rosso F1 2016 Review

The team would start off solidly with both cars in the points – Verstappen unfortunate to slip behind Sainz in the end. Sainz would retire from Bahrain after a collision whilst Verstappen would finish a fine sixth, before another double points finish at China. Russia would be a trickier race – Verstappen suffering an engine failure, whilst Sainz would finish outside of the points.

Things would change drastically from then on however, as Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull Racing, whilst Daniil Kvyat would return to the team after a poor string of results. Changes were also made within the team. Spain would provide one of the strongest performances for the team of the season – Sainz taking a brilliant career-best sixth whilst Kvyat would finish in the points and would take the maiden fastest lap for the team.

From then on the two drivers would endure very different seasons to each other. Sainz would produce stunning top-eight finishes at Austria, Britain and Hungary whilst scoring further points at Canada. His qualifying efforts would also not go unnoticed – Sixth on the grid at Hungary being a standout performance. This would rocket Sainz up in the championship standings.

Kvyat, however, would endure a torrid time. He crashed out at Monaco after his car failed behind the safety car, Austria was a complete disaster, and in the time where Sainz scored 26 points, the Russian would score just two. Not all of that is down to the Russian’s fault however, as he endured some terrible luck. Both cars would fail to finish at Azerbaijan, after suffering from suspension problems.

Questions were raised over Kvyat’s future, and by the summer break it was clear that mentally he was not in the right place. Rumours were (wrongly) circulating that he would be replaced as early as Singapore by reserve driver Pierre Gasly, who had finally started to find form in GP2.

After the summer break, it became evident that the Toro Rosso was no longer up to speed with the likes of Force India, Williams and even McLaren. Getting out of Q1 became more and more difficult at a number of circuits. Sainz would begin to get frustrated and this began to show in his driving, whilst Kvyat would finally find some form at Singapore – immaculately defending from Verstappen and equaling his best result for Toro Rosso.

Sainz would have arguably his strongest performance in F1 to date at Texas, where he tussled with his hero Fernando Alonso to finish sixth – his equal best F1 finish. He would go and match that in treacherous conditions at Brazil. The final race of the season was a race to forget, with punctures (a major issue this season) hampering practice, before mechanical problems put both drivers out of the race.

Toro Rosso will run with the same drivers in 2017 despite Gasly’s GP2 performances (which were still deemed inadequate to Helmut Marko) but will return to Renault power. With this, and hopefully two refreshed, young, hungry drivers, they may well challenge for higher than seventh with the new regulations.
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