Is Toro Rosso 2017’s dark horse?

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

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    Toro Rosso are one of three teams desperate to seal sixth place. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

    Entering their twelfth Formula One campaign, victory at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix courtesy of Sebastian Vettel remains Scuderia Toro Rosso’s finest hour.

    Long associated as Red Bull’s breeding ground – ruthlessly disposing numerous talents well ahead of their time, they’ve never sustained the heights reached on that afternoon at Monza. However, 2017 could represent the season in which the Faenza outfit gains autonomy and displays a capability to stand on its own two feet.

    Notwithstanding the striking livery adorning the ‘STR12′, unveiled ahead of this week’s first pre-season test, a case can be mounted that this is an attempt to gain independence from its’ more esteemed sibling.

    Despite this, its challenger boasts considerable interior DNA from the latter, having consolidated technical ties in tandem with the new regulations, to an extent unrealised since its halcyon ’08 campaign when they had Red Bull’s measure in the constructors’ standings.

    Returning to the Renault fold following a solitary season re-united with Ferrari – albeit running year old power units, amid the infamous 2015 fallout between the energy drinks company and the French manufacturer – there’s tangible promise that they won’t find themselves stagnating following a strong opening, having commenced 2016 on a positive note.

    Taking notable aesthetic cues from Mercedes’ ‘W08 EQ Power+’, technical director James Key’s efforts, coupled with renewed insight from Adrian Newey – who architected the race winning ‘STR3′ in 2008, joining the Brackley outfit as the only outfit to avoid the derided stub nose, the tidy package appears equipped to contend for frequent top five results.

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    Remarked Key, “On the one hand we were pleased to see someone else had done a similar thing, but on the other we were disappointed that we weren’t the only team to think of something.” The Briton added that the resemblance is “complete coincidence”, noting that from his perspective, the Mercedes has “our front suspension.”

    Irrespective, if this design trajectory proves to be the silver bullet, not to mention the eponymous ‘Silver Arrows’, they could be forgiven for believe they’re headed for genuine success.

    Carlos Sainz of Scuderia Toro Rosso

    Carlos Sainz is a man in a hurry, and beyond an unlikely opening arising at the senior outfit in 2018, the Spaniard is primed to impress suitors as he definitively attempts to break free not only from Max Verstappen’s shadow, but also that of his famous father. The 22-year-old is capable of giant killing performances and Toro Rosso’s quiet potential looms as the perfect environment to strike without the scrutiny associated with Red Bull proper.

    Daniil Kvyat wouldn’t have envisaged lining up in a Toro Rosso twelve months ago, and his career appeared in terminal decline immediately following his untimely demotion from Red Bull, though the Russian returns with redemption on his mind. That he lifted his performance in the latter portion of a nightmare season suggests he’s willing to harness the pain of what might have been and rebuild towards what can still lie ahead.

    His knowledge of the Renault power unit from his ill-fated Milton Keynes tenure could initially prove invaluable against his teammate .

    It’d be wishful thinking to anticipate victories, yet there’s no reason why Toro Rosso cannot glean its most competitive campaign. It shapes as the season which affords the Faenza outfit the opportunity to step into the spotlight as its own entity, but also one to be reckoned with.