(Photo source: Renzopaso)
Last season, Toro Rosso looked capable of finishing ahead of team Renault (also their engine supplier at the time), but were pipped to sixth position in the last race in Abu Dhabi. By that time, Carlos Sainz Jr - who scored most for the points for the Italian-based outfit - had already switched to Renault and the team also parted ways the struggling Daniil Kvyat, leaving Toro Rosso with a new line-up of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley for the last few races.
Both arrived when Renault were facing engine failure issues causing DNFs and leaving less time in the practice sessions for the rookies to get used to their new machinery. This, combined with the fact Hartley was still competing in the last WEC races in-between, meant they both scored zero points.
Ironically, Daniil Kvyat got a last chance in Austin where he finished 10th to score one last point for his team before being sacked a few days later. Red Bull consultant Dr Marko not see the Russian turning things around in the long term. Apparently he put himself under too much pressure, especially at the start where he ended the race of his teammate in one race, and that of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in another.
In contrast, Carlos Sainz Jr showed a very strong performance throughout the year, scoring 48 of the 53 points Toro Rosso had on its tally at the end of the campaign. But it could have been even more. In both Canada and Japan, the Spaniard was at fault for his own early exits. Still, his move to Renault in October was a huge blow for the team.
Impressions from testing
With the change of engine supplier from Renault to Honda, you could easily assume that Toro Rosso would face similar issues as McLaren had in previous years, but until now we have seen the opposite. The Toro Rosso Honda was the most reliable car on track, recording an impressive 324 laps in the first week of testing.
On some days, even the lap times looked promising such as Day 5 where Pierre Gasly was only half a second slower than Sebastian Vettel who set the quickest time of the time in the Ferrari. Overall, the Toro Rosso seems to appear quicker than expected. And with the car seeming more reliable than Honda's former team McLaren, the Toro Rosso social media team couldn't help but aim a cheeky tweet towards the Woking-based team.