By Adam Tate, Managing Editor
With the benefit of Ferrari power for 2016, Red Bull’s ambitious junior squad thinks that it can take aim at the podium with its talented young drivers this season.
Last season rookie sensations Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz moved the team up a notch in the pecking order and despite some rookie mistakes and bad luck, had some excellent drives, including two 4th place finishes for Verstappen, at Hungary and Austin.
Last year’s STR10 marked 10 years since Red Bull bought out lovable F1 backmarkers Minardi and turned their Faenza HQ into the base for Scuderia Toro Rosso. In that time the team only has one podium; Sebastian Vettel’s shock win in the rain at Monza in 2008. Special circumstances and an even more special driver led to that result, but long time team Principal Franz Tost see’s potential for new success after the strongest season in team history.
Overall, I expect a successful season because we are much better prepared in
many different ways than the years before. I’m convinced the new car – which has quite a successful predecessor will be another big step forward. I’m really optimistic about the season ahead. – Franz Tost
The 2015 spec Ferrari power unit will give the team the initial boost in their quest to be more competitive at the sharp end of the field, but they will suffer as the season wears on because the 2015 unit will not be open to development. To mitigate any gains made by their rivals, STR will have to make gains in its chassis and aerodynamics.
Fortunately for them, last season’s STR10 upon which this year’s design is based was one of the best chassis in the field. The drivers even boasted that if they had Mercedes power they could vie for wins. While such a claim was a tad overly optimistic, they truly good chassis and could certainly have battled with Williams and Ferrari for podiums if a Mercedes engine had been in the back of the car.
The team has also made strong aerodynamic gains and boasts one of the most aggressive rear wing designs of testing in addition to some of the most elegant sidepods.
Christian Horner’s prediction that the junior squad could embarrass the big boys at Red Bull early in the season may very well come true.