Toro Rosso’s fifth F1 season was the first in which they had responsibility for building their own car. This spelled the end of them using machinery supplied by sister team Red Bull.
The team took an understandably conservative route with a car based closely on its predecessor. More technical staff were brought in as the team made the transition from a ‘satellite’ outfit to a fully-fledged racing car manufacturer.
This at least assured them a reliable car – they completed more laps than Renault and Force India did in 2010
But, perhaps inevitably, the team couldn’t keep up with the development pace of their rivals and finished ahead of only the new teams.
|Best race result (number)||8th (1)|
|Best grid position (number)||11th (3)|
|Non-finishes (mechanical/other)||7 (3/4)|
|Laps completed (% of total)||1936 (85.74%)|
|Laps led (% of total)||1 (0.09%)|
|Championship position (2009)||9th (10th)|
|Championship points (2009*)||13 (28.5)|
|*using 2010 system|
Toro Rosso may have gained independence from Red Bull when it comes to car design.
But they remain the junior outfit of Dietrich Mateschitz’s operation, trialling young drivers who may follow Sebastian Vettel’s route into to the top team.
This is arguably the worst of both worlds for Toro Rosso, as they now have to develop a car but are unlikely to take on the kind of experienced driver they need to speed up the process.
This led to mid-season driver changes in several recent seasons but both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were retained throughout this year.
During 2010 the pendulum clearly swung from the more experienced (though, at 22, not what you would call ‘old’) Buemi to the younger Alguersuari. Buemi started in front of Alguerauri for all bar one of the first ten races; over the final nine Alguersuari beat him by seven to two.
Buemi gave the team its best result of the season at Montreal where he also snuck into the lead for a lap – something no other driver outside the ‘big three’ teams managed to do, apart from Nico Rosberg.
What held Buemi back, particularly at the start of the season, was a series of accidents, many on the first lap of races.
An out-of-control Kamui Kobayashi battered him out of the race at Melbourne. Vitantonio Liuzzi did likewise at Shanghai in a dreadful weekend for Buemi, who had also crashed when both his front wheels fell off at 200mph during practice.
Though he was blameless in all of these cases Buemi might have avoided other incidents by taking a little more care on the first lap.
Alguersuari came on strong in the second half of the season and could easily have picked up more points finishes in the final races – he finished 11th three times in a row.
He had some interesting battles with Michael Schumacher in the early races, particularly at Melbourne where he frustrated the Mercedes driver’s passing attempts for several laps.
Interestingly, this team which has often left its driver plans fluid until the last minute confirmed both Buemi and Alguersuari for 2011 as early as July.
But they recently announced up-coming Red Bull development driver Daniel Ricciardo will drive in some Friday practice sessions for them next year, putting pressure on both their drivers to perform.
Suspicion will inevitably fall on Buemi getting the chop following his somewhat lacklustre end to the season and rumours about him and the team’s management not seeing eye-to-eye.
That may not have been helped by him revealing details of the team’s pre-Italian Grand Prix Vairano test plans on Twitter in a series of messages that were later deleted.
But the team clearly have the most to gain on the development side. The car lacked downforce, and two of 2010’s major ‘update trends’ – the F-duct and exhaust-blown diffuser – didn’t make it onto the car until the final races.
Toro Rosso ultimately finished one place higher in the championship this year than last. But they mainly have Toyota’s departure to thank for that.
They may well come under pressure from the likes of Lotus next season if they don’t make more progress with their chassis.
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