Literally translating as Red Bull in Italian, Toro Rosso’s affiliations were unquestionable from the very start. On the 25th November 2005, the name was first chosen by new team boss Dietrich Mateschitz after purchasing the Minardi squad from Australian millionaire Paul Stoddart.
Since then, Scuderia Toro Rosso has become a force for good by promoting some of F1’s greatest young talents to from the depths of junior single-seater racing to full-time drives in the higher echelons of motorsport.
As the final round of their tenth season approaches, it is time to look back on the team’s varying success over the past decade. From their first and only win to some stunning rookie performances, here is a numerical countdown of facts from Toro Rosso’s decade long tenure in F1…
10 years does not always equal equivalent chassis numbers. Toro Rosso has showcased 11 different chassis since debuting in 2006 but the STR2b did feature within a race. With every new technical director, comes a new style and leadership. Former Sauber designer James Key is the current technical director after accepting the position in 2012. He was preceded by Giorgio Ascanelli and Alex Hitzinger at the Italian squad. The current STR10, designed by Key, was launched on the 31st January 2015 but has changed significantly since. Now brandishing a shorter nose, new aerodynamic capabilities a new suspension, the current car is a shadow of its former self. At the time of writing, the team sits seventh in the 2015 constructors championship.
9 nationalities have taken to the helm of the Toro Rosso cockpit since the Italian outfit’s inaugural season in 2006. Vitantonio Liuzzi, representing Italy, and American racer Scott Speed were the first driver pairing at Minardi’s successor. Now a four-time championship winner, Sebastian Vettel remains the only German to race for Toro Rosso while Sebastien Buemi is Switzerland‘s latest talent in F1. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo, while Italian in ancestry races for Australia, his current team mate Daniil Kvyat is Russian. Two drivers – Jaime Alguersuari and current racer Carlos Sainz – are Spanish while Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastien Bourdais are France‘s two representatives at Toro Rosso. Born and raised in Belgium, Max Verstappen competes under his Dutch passport and makes up the ninth nationality on the list.
8 – Since the V8 era ended in 2013, Toro Rosso has been sporting Renault engines, matching them with big brothers Red Bull. The 2014 engine shift signalled the end of a seven year partnership with fellow Italians, Ferrari. Only four drivers – Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne have raced at the helm of a V6 Renault-powered Toro Rosso. Cosworth also provided an engine for the team during their inaugural season back in 2006 but this partnership was not renewed beyond the first year of competition.
7 – Heading into this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Toro Rosso is seventh in the constructors championship, trailing Lotus-Mercedes by just nine points ahead of the final round. In fact, surpassing Lotus in the desert would help the team equal its career-best finish with an all-rookie pairing. Their 67 points haul is already the largest achieved by a Toro Rosso duo despite persistent reliability issues for Carlos Sainz. Of course, it is important to note that the points scoring system has changed considerably since the team’s first season.
6th is the team’s best championship finish, a feat they achieved in 2008 with Sebastien Bourdais and Monza race winner Sebastian Vettel. The team’s worst finish was back in 2009 with tenth. This put their ever-changing line up of Sebastian Bourdais, his replacement Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi at the bottom of the standings.
5 – The STR5 was the last fuelled by Shell. Since 2011, Cepsa has been quite literally feeding the engines of all subsequent Toro Rosso models. The Spanish petroleum company decided to heavily sponsor the team, thus allowing them a chance to appear within F1. Cepsa’s logo can also been seen on the overalls of the Toro Rosso drivers following the signing of a lucrative between the two companies. Cepsa is a significant supporter of sport and also sponsors the Spanish national football team.
4th was Vettel’s best finish before winning in a rain-drenched Monza. His lights to flag victory remains Toro Rosso’s only visit to the top step of the podium and has set an unnecessarily standard for all the German’s successors since. One of 2015’s incumbent drivers, Max Verstappen has also secured two fourth place finishes throughout his first full season. Alarmingly, Vettel’s win was the first for any Red Bull endorsed chassis before the German won four consecutive titles with big sister between 2010 and 2013.
3 tyre suppliers have come and gone since Toro Rosso joined the grid in 2006. Michelin helped steer the Cosworth-powered STR1 through the team’s first season. By the following year, Japanese company Bridgestone had replaced Michelin as the tyre manufacturer. Indeed, between 2007 and 2010, all teams used Bridgestone tyres. However, since 2011, Pirelli has been integral to obtaining grip at the helm of the Toro Rosso. F1’s current supplier has also sponsored both the Spanish and Hungarian rounds of the calendar in the past.
2 – For two years, Gerhard Berger owned a 50% stake of Toro Rosso before Dietrich Mateschitz bought out the remainder of the team on behalf of Red Bull in 2008. The initial selling of the shares came after Mateschitz himself purchased half of Berger’s family business which specialises in road haulage. Although 2008 was a successful year for Berger, by November, the deal was over and the team reverted to 100% ownership by Austrian energy drinks company, Red Bull.
1 – Toro Rosso previously appeared on the grid under one other guise, that of Minardi, before the team was sold to Red Bull. The change of hands was not without some controversy from historic F1 fans who were unhappy with the absence of a long-term name. Minardi first appeared on the grid back in 1985 with Italian Pierluigi Martini at the helm. However, after few improvements were made at the start of the 21st century, the team’s 345 race entries came to end.
After ten years, the role of Toro Rosso in developing drivers cannot be disputed having coached four time champion and current Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel during his tenure with the company. To find out more about Toro Rosso’s previous drivers, you can read a comparison between Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat following Vettel’s departure from Red Bull in 2014. Toro Rosso is currently fielding Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, a partnership which is expected to remain into 2016.
Written by Katie Grimmett. Katie is a freelance motorsport journalist predominately working in single-seater junior championships with Crash.net, AUTOSPORT and Driver Club Management.