Return to Renault a double boost for Toro Rosso

2017 F1 season preview: Renault

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It’s been the same story for the past few years at Toro Rosso.

They’ve usually produced a tidy chassis which has earned admiring glances from better-funded rivals. However reliability problems have consistently held them back, as has the need to keep swapping drivers to satisfy Red Bull’s thirst for fresh talent.

In at least two respects 2017 looks like being more of the same. Technical director James Key has produced a neat car with clear (but coincidental) similarities to the Mercedes, particularly around the nose and suspension.

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However the STR12 was dogged by breakdowns in testing. Only McLaren spent less time on the track. So is 2017 going to be a case of ‘same old’ for the team which placed seventh last year?

Maybe not entirely. For their 12th F1 campaign Toro Rosso are embarking on the season with their most experienced driver line-up yet. Daniil Kvyat is heading into his fourth season, Carlos Sainz Jnr his third. In a season of major technical upheaval, this consistency is valuable, especially when most other teams have at least one new driver.

And their reunion with Renault should pay off twofold. Not only will they now have current-specification power units but it will allow them to make greater use of Red Bull technology in their cars, much as Haas do with Ferrari. However the team say this will not extend to using Red Bull’s trick suspension system – for now, at least.


55. Carlos Sainz Jnr

Sainz’s path to Red Bull’s top team has been blocked by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. There’s no obvious reason why either of those obstacles might disappear soon, so this has to be the year he convinces another front-running team to place him in their squad. He had a consistently strong 2016 with a few stand-out results and should be one of the midfield stars this year.

26. Daniil Kvyat

It came as something of a surprise that Kvyat held onto any kind of F1 seat this year having been kicked out of Red Bull four races into 2016. But he will be acutely aware of the threat to his future GP2 champion Pierre Gasly may be. The latest talent in Red Bull’s Junior Team may be ushered in if Kvyat lags as far behind Sainz as he did for the bulk of last season.

Poll: Which Toro Rosso driver will finish ahead in the championship?

Which Toro Rosso driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Daniil Kvyat (8%)
  • Carlos Sainz Jnr (92%)

Total Voters: 186

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Return to Renault a double boost for Toro Rosso”

  1. That car deserves to be at the front simply because it’s gorgeous

  2. Article sub-title is wrong @keithcollantine
    it says: 2017 F1 season preview: Renault

  3. How Kvyat managed to keep that seat, I don’t know. They had Sainz’s experience, and a team like STR could easily have promoted another RB young driver. I guess the redbull consumption in Russia is quite high.

    I believe this driver line-up together with Renault are the ones with the biggest difference in talent, pending in favour of Sainz and Hulk. Lets see how the season turns out.

    1. Sergey Martyn
      14th March 2017, 15:04

      How Kvyat managed to keep that seat?
      Please let me remind you that he outscored Ricciardo back in 2015 in RB.

      1. That is too simplistic.

        He also was outscored by Sainz even with the advantage of having started the season with RB, if that fact alone is really the only thing in his defense it won’t be enough for much longer, especially if he keeps under-performing and bumping into people.

    2. They need a Russian driver on the grip for when the Russian GP rolls around.

    3. @johnmilk, given Sainz Jr has been the forefront of Toro Rosso’s publicity machine, I don’t buy the argument that Kvyat is there just for marketing benefits – if anything, I would say that Sainz Jr has been more frequently linked with commercial deals than Kvyat (for example, Cepsa’s sponsorship of Toro Rosso was linked to Sainz Jr).

      I would say that it is more of a reflection of the fact that Red Bull didn’t have that many alternative choices amongst their junior team in 2016. Realistically, about the only driver who was in a position to step up into Toro Rosso was Pierre Gasly, but the general consensus does seem to be that, whilst Gasly did eventually take the title in 2016, he didn’t consistently perform at the level that had been expected of him going into that season. As things stand, it seems that Red Bull have decided that Gasly needs a bit longer to demonstrate that he can raise his game adequately, such that Kvyat then becomes their main alternative.

      1. Don’t know anon, I’m not exposed to RB publicity in eastern Europe, which I’m sure would pay more attention to Kvyat than Saynz. And surely having a Russian GP helps the cause

        I do agree with you on the Gasly subject, but I also think that if Kvyat’s performances don’t improve this year would they really be any worse if he had gotten a promotion?

  4. Designing one of the best looking cars but still hampered by enough testing on track and on wind tunnel it seems. Some unexpected problems rose last year ( brake ducks, cutting tires, suspension etc..)
    It seems they have enough ideas but are unable to sufficient test them before implementing them on track.

    1. The person designing those problematic brake ducks must be a real quack.

      1. @grippgoat – you just love punishing typos, don’t you?

  5. Sainz needs to cut out the errors this year. He’s been very impressive so far but he also has the occasional weekend to forget.

    1. Sainz has always blown hot or cold, has since Formula Renault, even in his FR 3.5 championship campaign he either won races or finished off the podium. Needs consistency if anything.

  6. nelson piquet
    14th March 2017, 18:23

    hope sainz gets his deserved podium in a wet race

  7. Sainz by a mile this one, Kvyat might even not see the season out! depends who is up next on the RB junior list

  8. Chose Kvyat. Extremely underrated I feel. I honestly thought of him as a future race winner in 2014 where he was very impressive in my opinion and although his Red Bull stint didn’t go to plan he showed something against Ricciardo. I think he was just under the weather for the rest of the season after being dropped and that affected his performance. This will be a close battle in my opinion.

  9. Although the poll indicates that Sainz is the favourite (which I agree with), I think a re-focussed Kvyat will be a lot closer to Sainz than people think.

    1. Like he was at the tail end of last season. Far from a bad driver.

  10. What’s the betting Kvyat ends up demoted to GP2 by the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Sainz all the way!

    1. Well seeing as GP2 no longer exists (Formula 2), the odds would be rather high :p

  11. I will be rooting for this team to win the midfield battle. their amazing car deserves it! plus they have an exciting driver in Sainz. And hopefully Kvyat has managed to restore his confidence in the offseason and will be able to put up a decent fight

  12. No disrespect to Kvyat, I really rate him, but he’s caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Given the recent politics, promotion and demotion activity within the Red Bull empire, coupled with being unlucky enough to be forced to break his F1 ice at precisely the same time as Max Verstappen, I feel that Carlos will be in a place mentally that will help him absolutely steam roll his team mate. Even any hypothetical team mate I can think of would have a fight on their hands.

    Kvyat is doomed at Red Bull. His performance is irrelevant. I really hope he gets a drive beyond, because I think he’s genuinely good enough.

    Carlos has everything to prove, plus, all of the ‘right stuff’. He’ll put a shift in. Mark my words.

  13. I think Toro Rosso will again be a solid midfield team, as in recent seasons I don’t expect them to be challenging for podiums but I also don’t expected them to be at the tail of the field, the main purpose of the team is to give young talent a chance so Red Bull can evaluate them and see what they are like.

    Regarding their drivers, I think Sainz should have another strong season and be the top Toro Rosso driver, the only problem being what will he do if there is no vacancy at Red Bull at the end of the year.

    As for Kvyat, it seemed harsh when he was demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso after the start of the season last year, but Red Bull’s decision was immediately vindicated given the performance of Verstappen.

    I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if Red Bull had dropped Kvyat altogether at the end of the season, but they didn’t and he has another year to prove himself, however unless he has a stellar season I don’t think he will be kept on for 2018 and he will have to make way so Red Bull can try out another hot prospect.

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