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F1 2017 midseason review: Toro Rosso

We take a look at how the junior Red Bull team has fared in 2017


2017 has provided Toro Rosso with a bag of mixed results. The nine points finishes and eight DNFs across the two drivers couldn’t sum this up any better, with the ongoing reliability issues of Toro Rosso mirroring those occurring at Red Bull. For the drivers, Carlos Sainz has continued to show his potential whilst Daniil Kvyat’s decline has continued with only four points so far this season.

2017 Expectations vs Reality

At the midpoint of the season, Toro Rosso sit in 6th place in the constructors’ standings which is on par with what their expectations would have been going into the season. Looking back on the first ten races, they’ll be wondering how high they could actually be sitting if their car was more reliable. After Kvyat’s poor year, you’d wonder if the team have considered replacing him with another up and comer who can potentially get a better points haul and replace a struggling driver who seemingly looks to be on the way out of F1.

Prospects for the rest of 2017

Toro Rosso have had a good season in terms of performance, but have been continually let down by their reliability issues. If they are able to limit the number of DNFs for the rest of the season, they will have a great opportunity to overtake Williams and grab fifth place in the constructors’ standings. If they are able to secure some double points finishes they may even be able to apply some pressure on Force India. None the less, a fifth-place finish would be a great result, and if they were to sneak into fourth it would mean that they’ve overachieved massively. I think the summer break can allow Toro Rosso to sort out these problems and fire themselves towards a strong finish for the end of the season. 

Driver Battle

RaceCarlos SainzDaniil Kvyat
AustraliaQ: 8
R: 8
Q: 9
R: 9
ChinaQ: 11
R: 7
Q: 9
R: DNF
BahrainQ: 16
R: DNF
Q: 11
R: 12
RussiaQ: 14
R: 10
Q: 12
R: 12
SpainQ: 12
R: 7
Q: 20
R: 9
MonacoQ: 6
R: 6
Q: 9
R: DNF
CanadaQ: 13
R: DNF
Q: 11
R: DNF
AzerbaijanQ: 15
R: 8
Q: 10
R: DNF
AustriaQ: 10
R: DNF
Q: 14
R: 16
Great BritainQ: 13
R: DNF
Q: 12
R: 15
HungaryQ: 9
R: 7
Q: 16
R: 11

The driver battle between Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat is among the most one-sided pairings in F1 this season. Sainz has accumulated seven points finishes from seven finishes (for 51 points total) whilst Kvyat has only managed two ninth-place finishes from seven finishes, garnering just four points. In terms of qualifying, they are pretty even, but during the race is where Sainz shows his talents by extracting some very solid race pace from the car.

Kvyat has proven that he has some talent but the question is, does he have the right temperament? He has constantly caused havoc on the track to the extent that he is only two penalty points away from receiving a one-race ban. Sainz, on the other hand, has proven that he is a more than capable driver and is asking the question as to whether he could take a seat at a big team.

It’s fair to say that the Renault engine has impacted all its users, and it has been no different for Toro Rosso. The less powerful engine, compared to the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari, has limited them as it has done Red Bull. It’s clear that their chassis and aero dynamics set up is very good, but they have been let down by a lack of engine power and reliability. If there’s improved reliability and performance for the back half of the year, we can expect Toro Rosso to really threaten Force India for that fourth position in the constructors’.

Driver Performance: Carlos Sainz

Sainz has had a good year by most accounts, and has continually pressed his case for a seat at a big team. Judging by his results it seems that Toro Rosso can climb no higher than sixth place, which is unfortunate for a driver who shows such flair and pace during a race. His 100% point strike rate shows that he has the consistency required to be an asset to a team battling at the top. There have already been rumours that he wants to move on to bigger and better things, which for Red Bull is a worrying sign. In something of a double-edged sword for them, Ricciardo and Verstappen are both top drivers and are doing really well, meaning that they may be unable to hold onto Sainz for much longer.

Sainz’s main objective should be to continue his strong form so that he can show he can do the job for a big team. One aspect that he can improve on in his qualifying pace. As shown above, he has qualified above 9th on only two occasions, showing that his hot lap pace isn’t as good as his race pace. If he wants to push for that seat with Red Bull, Mercedes or Ferrari, he needs to prove that he can string a solid hot lap together.

Overall, Sainz has been very competitive this year and he can help Toro Rosso push on in the second half of the year, so that he can put himself in a car capable of winning a championship in future seasons. During his good run of form this year, he has also proven that he is the standout number one driver in the team.

Driver Performance: Daniil Kvyat

Its been quite the demise for Daniil Kvyat in the last year and half. He has gone from grabbing podiums in a Red Bull to being Toro Rosso’s number two driver, and he has put himself at risk of losing his spot in F1 altogether. As mentioned above, he has continued to show a lack of track awareness. He has accumulated the most points against his super licence of any driver (17 points) since the system was brought in. In the last two months alone, he has received four penalties. The question is whether Toro Rosso will continue to put up with his lack of awareness and clumsiness, or give someone younger, such as Pierre Gasly, an opportunity.

The fact that Kvyat has been penalised four times has prevented him from scoring points, which in turn makes it look like he’s under performing. He has shown throughout his career that he has the pace, it’s just whether he can stay disciplined and avoid setting himself back through a penalty or crash. We must not forget that this same driver outscored Red Bull ace Daniel Ricciardo in 2015 in the same car.

If Kvyat can replicate some of his 2015 Red Bull form, he will go a long way to recovering his season and helping Toro Rosso in the constructors’; however, if he continues to drive like he has to date, he may risk throwing his career in F1 away. There’s no question he is more than capable and hopefully the summer break can help freshen up and come back better than ever.

How do you think Torro Roso will fare in the second half of the season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Pat Galic

20 year old from Australia who loves football, cricket and F1

F1 2017 midseason review: Toro Rosso

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