While the Formula 1 field takes a well-earned moment to rest and recharges its batteries ahead of the second half of the season, the RichardsF1.com team has taken the opportunity to review each driver and team and their performances over the first eleven rounds of the season.
In our latest mid-year review, we take a look at Scuderia Toro Rosso’s performances to date.
It’s been a season of wasted opportunities so far for Red Bull’s junior squad, which has repeatedly seen the potential of its Renault-powered STR9 stifled by a succession of reliability issues. Like its fellow Renault stablemates, it too suffered from a disrupted pre-season build-up while the power unit issues were resolved and came to Australia with next to no mileage.
But both cars incredibly made it to the finish in Melbourne to kick off the season with a double-points finish. The car seems to perform best in lower-grip conditions, which have occasionally allowed drivers Jean-Éric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat to threaten a top-ten qualifying berth.
But a 17-point haul to-date is well short of expectations. The car is a capable top-ten runner on its day that is capable of nipping at the heels of McLaren and Force India, but its reliability has been shocking: the pair have only made the chequered flag thirteen times between them. Not all of this can be put in Renault’s corner, as a number of problems have stemmed from installation issues which team boss Franz Tost described as ‘unacceptable’.
Added to that have been some errors, including a loose wheel at the Spanish Grand Prix and an unsafe pit release in Monaco for Vergne – both cost the Frenchman possible points’ finishes, although he DNF’d in the latter…
The struggles of rival outfits Lotus and – in particular – Sauber sees Toro Rosso sitting a solid seventh in the Constructors’ Championship standings, but it’s effectively in No Man’s Land, such is the 80-point gap to sixth-placed McLaren.
RichardsF1.com Rating: 6/10
|Rank||Constructor||Races||DNS||Poles||Wins||Podiums||FL||Laps Led||Laps Raced||DNF||Pts.|
|7th||Scuderia Toro Rosso||11||0||0||0||0||0||0||1069/1396||9||17|
The Frenchman burst out of the gate with a top-ten finish in Malaysia and then backed this up with a Q3 appearance next time out in Malaysia. Hopes of back-to-back top-ten results went begging with a power unit issue at the start of the race, and it’s a theme that’s been pretty consistent for much of the season as reliability gremlins continued to rear their head.
A master of low-grip conditions, Vergne was rapid in Monaco and Canada – although he lost more points at the former with an unsafe pit release followed by an exhaust failure. Errors have crept in as well, with a number of opening-lap incidents costing him potential points’ finishes as well.
By far his best performance came at Hungary, where an off-sequence strategy saw him run an outstanding second on the drying track. He looked very comfortable in that position and had the pace to keep the two Mercedes’ and Daniel Ricciardo at bay; it was a performance that showed what he could do if he had a quicker car at his disposal. Don’t forget that he and eventual race-winner Daniel Ricciardo were closely-matched as teammates in 2012-13…
Vergne is into his third year of F1 competition and he’s under enormous pressure to show his Red Bull backers that he deserves ongoing support. The drinks giant is notoriously fickle, and history suggests his fate will mirror that of the likes of Vitantonio Liuzzi, Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari unless he can deliver a giant-killing result.
There isn’t a vacancy at the senior Red Bull team and it makes it hard to see how he will continue to enjoy the drink giant’s support beyond the end of 2014, particularly with interest in the likes of Carlos Sainz Jr continuing to grow.
RichardsF1.com Rating: 7/10
After impressively winning the GP3 Series crown, the Russian teenager’s promotion to Formula 1 – ahead of the highly-rated António Félix da Costa – was undoubtedly the biggest shock of the driver market movements.
After impressing with two Friday practice outings last year, the 19-year-old made the transition to full-time Grand Prix driver with consummate ease. Incredibly, he put the barely-run STR9 into the top-ten on the grid and finished in the points on his Grand Prix debut, and then claimed a further two tenth-placed over the next three races.
Blessed with quick reactions and great car control, he’s not been afraid to mix it with drivers blessed with plenty more years behind the wheel. Unfortunately, further – and better – points finishes have been scuppered by the unreliability of the car, and he’s only finished in the points once in the last seven races.
Despite his tender years and the massive step from GP3 to F1, Kvyat has been largely error-free in his driving. His only two moments of silliness came with a spin in qualifying at Silverstone and a clumsy passing attempt on Sergio Pérez in Germany. More seasoned drivers have made more mistakes this year.
The 11-6 points balance in Vergne’s favour suggests that the Frenchman has the edge, but that’s hardly the case. If he can deliver a strong second half of the season and match his more established teammate, his stock will rise exponentially.
RichardsF1.com Rating: 8/10
Images via XPB Images
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