- 1 one of the stories of the season has been the form of the toro rosso getting stronger.
- 2 Of particular note has been the alarming rate that Toro Rosso has caught up with its older sister, Red Bull, and has now overtaken them in the constructors’ championship.
- 3 red bull has slipped down the grid compared to toro rosso’s recent rise.
- 4 same chassis and technologies as red bull
- 5 ferrari engine
- 6 team spirit and hunger/motivation
- 7 best driver lineup
- 8 will toro rosso stay ahead of red bull in the championship?
- 9 next season and beyond
one of the stories of the season has been the form of the toro rosso getting stronger.
Of particular note has been the alarming rate that Toro Rosso has caught up with its older sister, Red Bull, and has now overtaken them in the constructors’ championship.
red bull has slipped down the grid compared to toro rosso’s recent rise.
these are the positions of the two teams in the constructors’ championship after the singapore gp?
6. rosso bull: 31 points
Reading: Toro rosso vs red bull
7. red bull: 28 points
Fernando Alonso recently said that he thought Toro Rosso was now the third best team in Formula 1. Looking at the current form, it’s not that easy to disagree with him.
so why is toro rosso beating red bull right now?
There are four main contributing factors:
- same chassis and technologies as the main red bull team
- strong ferrari engine (compared to the renault engine red bull has)
- better team spirit and hunger/motivation
- strongest combination of drivers
Let’s look at these four factors in more detail one by one.
same chassis and technologies as red bull
Toro Rosso benefits greatly as a client team for Red Bull. the chassis of both teams are developed by technologies led by adrian newey. so before toro rosso starts to work, they already have a very good base to work with.
the only real change they have to make from the red bull car, are some alterations to accommodate the ferrari engine. this arrangement is legal at the moment but will be outlawed in 2010.
This saves Toro Rosso a lot of money and time compared to Force India who build their entire car on a shoestring budget. however, toro rosso has yet to make the most of his package and fully optimize it.
When it comes to weekend racing, they have to test the car and find the right set-up. this is something they seem to be very good at throughout the season.
more often than not, the small team that has toro rosso has managed to squeeze more time out of its package than red bull. this has left the core red bull team scratching their heads in the process.
Notably at the start of the season, Toro Rosso opted to use last season’s car to give himself more time to understand the current car. they used the new car for the first time in monaco after having a better drive of the car. vettel finished fifth in that race and the season has been a strong climb ever since.
torro rosso has a ferrari engine, while red bull are renault customers in the engine department. Red Bull’s main team opted to use Renault engines and hand over the Ferrari engines to its sister team, Toro Rosso, in late 2006.
It was definitely the right thing to do at the time. Renault had become one of the best engines in F1, while Red Bull was struggling to adapt to the Ferrari engine and had problems with it, especially cooling, which dogged the 2006 season.
however, the balance shift has completely changed this season between renault and ferrari engines. When the engine freeze started (which restricted the development of engines), Renault was definitely a bit ahead of Ferrari.
however, ferrari has been smart and found loopholes in the rules and found little things they can improve on the engine. therefore, they have been able to squeeze out some extra horsepower.
however, ferrari has not broken the rules. they simply asked charlie whiting (f1 race director) what they are allowed to change/adjust and what they should leave untouched.
renault simply hasn’t taken the initiative to do this. Therefore, they are falling behind in terms of power, which affects both the Renault team itself and Red Bull’s customers.
this means that ferrari have been able to make some key improvements (within the rules) and gain additional power, giving toro rosso three or four tenths of a second of performance on some racetracks over the main red bull team, whose renault engine is now behind in development.
red bull and toro rosso have been in a tight midfield all season, along with other teams including: renault, toyota, williams and on occasion challenging bmw sauber. this packet are only mere tenths of a second apart (in fact, the entire grid is only covered by less than 2.0 seconds).
this means that the few tenths that toro rosso has gained with the improvements made to the engine has moved them from the back of the midfield to the front of the midfield. only a few tenths are required to do this. It’s been that tight!
ferrari delivered its upgraded engine to toro rosso in time for the hungary gp. There is a strong correlation between the arrival of this new Ferrari engine and better results.
recently we had three very fast circuits in a row: the new street circuit in valencia, monza and spa. a great engine on these tracks will give you an even bigger advantage than on normal circuits. this is a big reason why toro rosso did so well in these three races.
another advantage of the ferrari engine is the performance during two race weekends. currently, the rules state that the same engine must be used for two race weekends (excluding Friday practice).
the ferrari engine can maintain practically the same level of performance during the two weekends. it may lose just a tenth of its performance in the second race weekend, this is one of the lowest attrition rates on the grid. instead the toyota engine loses about 3 or 4 tenths during the second weekend of racing. that’s a big difference.
of course it would be completely wrong to say that having the ferrari engine is the only reason that toro rosso is breaking its weight. there are other reasons, as you can see in this article, but I think engines are one of the most important contributing factors, if not the most important.
team spirit and hunger/motivation
what you have to remember is that toro rosso used to be minardi’s old team. Minardi’s DNA still runs through the veins of this team. a lot of the guys who worked hard through the nights to keep minardi within 4 seconds of the teams in front are still there. winning a championship point was like winning a world championship for them in those days. his pace of work has always been incredible
suddenly a little investment and support from red bull technology, and better results are coming from the hard work of all these guys. after that victory they must have been in dreamland. no one would care if toro rosso was still near the back of the grid. that’s what you’d normally expect from a much smaller sister team. Therefore, there is not as much pressure on Toro Rosso as the main Red Bull team that has the names of the stars. For this reason, everyone expects great things from Red Bull. otherwise they are a failure in the eyes of the media and fans.
a great team spirit can help increase performance. when you’ve tasted success for the first time, you just want more. the last few months will have brought all the toro rosso guys together and they will be more motivated to continue like this. Toro Rosso is showing what can be done when a small team has such spirit and motivation. enormous passion and dedication to what you do, can bring as good results as a team with excellent facilities and unlimited budgets.
red bull is under immense pressure. they want to get to the front quickly and may feel frustrated because they haven’t met their goals in recent seasons. this does not mean that the team spirit is very low. however, the body language may not be as positive as it currently is at toro rosso. that can make a big difference. Getting beaten by Toro Rosso won’t help team morale, that’s for sure.
Some of the Red Bull guys have tasted success, particularly Adrian Newey and Geoff Willis. how hungry are they for more success? Are they as hungry as the Torro Rosso team members? they will not be happy men playing in midfield. Is this bad taste spreading across the team right now?
Toro Rosso is a smaller and tight-knit group of people compared to Red Bull. no pressure being an underdog, it’s a very nice position for them. they can really do it without much involvement if it doesn’t work out every time.
best driver lineup
there is no doubt that sebastien vettel is a very special driver. he is potentially one of those drivers like: senna, prost, schumacher and more recently lewis hamilton who don’t come around very often. he can squeeze extra tenths out of the car and upset the established superstars. since vettel joined toro rosso in the middle of last season, vettel has gotten used to the team and the car and has developed very quickly.
won monza entirely on merit. in the same conditions as everyone else, he took the car to pole position. in the race he pulled away from the drivers who really should have won it. his talent was finally confirmed to the persistent skeptics of him.
It’s having a superstar like this that can really transform a team. their gigantic kill results have gone a long way in getting the team spirit really high and motivating the team even more. vettel’s very positive and happy personality is very endearing to the team. everyone loves having him on the team, and this makes the mechanics want to work even harder, to give a driver they really like the best possible chance of winning. he approaches his pit crew with a smile on his face and greatly appreciates the work they do for him. drivers can be great motivators. We have seen this with the likes of Schumacher at Ferrari and Alonso at Renault. on their own they exert such a positive influence on the team that it gets extra tenths out of the car. the mechanics build the car but the driver is the one who has to get the most out of it.
The relationship with the driver is very important. last season at toro rosso the experience was very different with scott speed and liuzzi. the relationship was bad for a variety of reasons. This led to the spirit in Toro Rosso’s garage often being quite poor and tense. This affected the performance and Toro Rosso parted ways with the two.
A strong, professional relationship with your drivers can make a world of difference to one who is a little nervous. sebastien bourdais, although not as talented as vettel, has also worked very hard for the team and has been very positive, despite not adapting brilliantly to f1 initially at the start of the season. he now he is also able to score points for the team. despite being a rookie he has won major championships in america and knows how a winning team works. he can pass this on to the torro rosso team.
mark webber and david coulthard on the red bull main team are decent drivers. however, with all due respect to them, they do not match the level of natural talent that vettel has. vettel will be a great addition to the red bull team next season and will help them take them to the next level. it will force webber to get more out of himself, so overall for red bull it will be a very positive driver line-up next season.
will toro rosso stay ahead of red bull in the championship?
Toro Rosso is currently 3 points ahead of Red Bull in the championship. This is not a very big gap, so Red Bull could still be saved from embarrassment. however, toro rosso has a good chance of staying ahead. there is a chance of rain in any of the last 3 races. vettel seems to be a master of the rain and toro rosso seems to have brilliantly adapted the car to wet conditions. the long-term forecast suggests rain for the race in fuji. if it rains, toro rosso is better positioned than red bull to make the most of it. A wet race could well secure Toro Rosso victory in terms of finishing ahead of Red Bull.
if it doesn’t rain it’s closer to call. however, the giant straight at fuji and fast sectors 1 and 2 should give toro rosso an advantage. Shanghai is a mix of fast and slow sections, so the two teams should be evenly matched there. This may be Red Bull’s chance to take over Toro Rosso. brazil is faster than slow with two long straights. so i hope toro rosso has an advantage there like in fuji.
toro rosso in general and vettel in particular are in the shape of their lives right now, while red bull is a bit down. This writer thinks Torro Rosso can finish the job. red bull’s big opportunity was in singapore, as they anticipated the safety car launch at the right time. however, they did not score all the points they could have earned.
next season and beyond
Toro Rosso is currently for sale, but Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz is willing to wait for the right offer. in 2010, customer cars will finally be banned forever. this means that toro rosso must be prepared to be a constructor at this time. torro rosso has already begun to prepare, gradually incorporating more staff. That historic win at Monza won’t do Toro Rosso any harm in trying to find potential sponsors or big investors to take over the team. Clearly, in general, there is a future for Toro Rosso (or whatever name they may possibly change to) from 2010 and beyond. the chances of them going extinct are much lower than previously thought earlier in the season. their recent success has increased the team’s credit rating and future potential as a team.
Whether they can remain as competitive as red bull in the future is another question. Toro Rosso should have a good car at least for next season. my advice is that red bull will adapt very well to the 2009 rules, the experience of newey and willis can prove invaluable for this big change. If this is proven to be the case, Toro Rosso will also reap the benefits and have another great season. the main difference is that they will no longer have vettel but they will have the ferrari engine as their trump card (although other teams are looking for the same engine performance next season). 2010 and they will be alone. future success will depend on how many sponsors they can find and how big an investor they can get for the team.
In the short term, this writer believes that Toro Rosso can continue to outshine Red Bull, but in the long term, he hopes that Red Bull will be good and finally realize its full potential, which for various reasons has not yet arrived.