F1 2007 Preview: Scuderia Toro Rosso

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed, Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari, preseason, 2007One of the strangest stories of the off-season was how Gerhard Berger put Toro Rosso drivers Scott Speed on Vitantonio Liuzzi on the rack, refusing to confirm their race seats until the last minute.

Berger’s determination to wring the most from his drivers, the team’s aggressive new car and Ferrari engine supply all indicated they’re after serious progress in 2007.

The battle between Red Bull Racing and its ‘junior’ team Scuderia Toro Rosso should be much closer in 2007 than last year.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari, Barcelona, preseason, 2007Because Toro Rosso, instead of using a one year old chassis, will be running a design that’s outwardly very similar to Red Bull’s RB3. That’s because the STR2 and RB3 share a parent in design guru Adrian Newey.

The biggest difference between the two cars is the engine – Toro Rosso have taken over Red Bull’s Ferrari engine deal from last year as the parent team use Renaults instead.

Ominously for their midfield rivals, this means Red Bull’s two teams are running the two best engines of 2006.

But while the technical side of the team looks strong, the off-season has been plagued with rumours that at least one of their drivers would be replace. Team boss Gerhard Berger made various remarks to the press that his drivers had underperformed in 2006.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, Bahrain, preseason, 2007Berger duly waited until the 11th hour to do what everyone expected him to do – re-sign Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed. But his drivers got the message loud and clear: buck up your ideas, or Sebastian Bourdais’ getting your drive next year.

The wake-up call was certainly needed as neither of the drivers had a great rookie season. Most of the press lines written about Scott Speed had more to say about his personality (and not in a positive way) than his race craft.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scuderia Toro Rosso-Cosworth, Melbourne, 2006Liuzzi fared better – particularly in Melbourne where he pulled off when of the best passes ofthe year on Michael Schumacher. But towards the end of the season he had developed an unhealthy reputation for having at least one spin per year.

It’s not inconceivable that, if either of the drivers doesn’t produce the goods before the season is out, they could find themselves replaces by one of Red Bull’s many junior drivers: Neel Jani, Robert Doornbos, etc…

It all serves to highlight the team’s new-found seriousness: they expect to be doing much more than just scrapping with the Spykers in 2007.

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2 thoughts on “F1 2007 Preview: Scuderia Toro Rosso”

  1. Somewhat ironic then that Speed gave the team their best testing time in the off season – and that after very little time to accustom himself to the car. Berger’s criticism and apparent reluctance to re-sign Liuzzi and Speed had much more to do with how much he was going to pay them in 2007 than any concern over their commitment – his message to Speed especially was, “If you’re that committed to F1, you’d drive for peanuts.” The fact is that Berger knows perfectly well that he has two very talented and motivated drivers but he’s far too clever to let that be known.

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