Mid-season review: STR inches towards goal

Mid-season review: STR inches towards goal

14 August 2017 – GPUpdate.net resumes its 2017 mid-season Formula 1 review series by taking a look at Toro Rosso's campaign, as the Faenza-based squad strives to finally realise its goal of claiming fifth in the standings.

Toro Rosso: 6.5/10
Championship: 6th
WCC points: 39
Best race: 6th (1 x SAI)
Best qualifying: 6th (1 x SAI)
Fastest laps: 0
Qualifying duel: SAI 6 – 5 KVY


Toro Rosso has regularly targeted fifth spot in the standings but this year is closer than ever to realising that ambition, aided by its own form and struggles for more esteemed rivals. Toro Rosso's STR12 was launched amid much fanfare due to its dazzling new colour scheme and the team adopted a Mercedes-style solution to the front nose section, leading some to tip the outfit as the dark horse. In this regard, Toro Rosso has been quietly effective, for while reliability and driver errors have held it back, the car has been a points-challenger at almost all events, without the large peaks and troughs some rivals have experienced. That the car is still roughly where it was at the season-opener in Australia, in terms of the midfield pecking order, is a testament to the good work undertaken pre-season and across the year with development. Pit-stops have also improved – the team is fifth best – while there have been fewer strategic head-scratchers than in recent years. With a capable second driver, Toro Rosso would be firmly clear in fifth – albeit Renault and Williams could say the same.

Carlos Sainz Jr: 8/10
Championship: 9th
WDC points: 35
Best R result: 6th (1x)
Best Q result: 6th (1x)


Sainz Jr. is in the uncomfortable predicament of shining in the midfield – aside from a few errors – but with no obvious path to a better seat barring an end-of-2016 Nico Rosberg-esque shock driver shuffle. Sainz Jr. has built on his strong 2016 showing with a sequence of fine performances in 2017. He has taken home points at each race he has finished, via a handful of stand-out performances. In China he made a tyre gamble, survived a spin, and briefly stayed with the leaders before taking seventh; in Monaco he was outstanding to take sixth, having qualified there, and in Hungary his seventh place owed much to a superb Q2 lap and stellar start. However, there have been low points. His contact with Lance Stroll in Bahrain was extremely clumsy, and the grid penalty scuppered his Russia prospects, while his antics in Canada triggered a collision that could have easily had a worse outcome. As in Russia, the post-Canada sanction also left him on the back foot for Azerbaijan. War of words over his future, at Red Bull's home event, was also a fruitless distraction. Overall, though, Sainz Jr. has enhanced his reputation this year, albeit with some rough edges to hone.

Daniil Kvyat: 4/10
Championship: 17th
WDC points: 4
Best R result: 9th (2x)
Best Q result: 9th (1x)


Kvyat began his year with a Q3 appearance and points but has broken into the top 10 in race trim just once since, in another chastening campaign for the Russian. Kvyat's one-lap pace has been surprisingly punchy, almost level with Sainz Jr., but over a race distance he has been too frequently missing in action, or notable only for the wrong reasons. Kvyat's Barcelona performance suggested a breakthrough – he charged from the back of the grid, amid a desperate lack of pace, to ninth – but performances since have been middling at best. His senseless first-lap collisions in Austria and Britain have left him dancing on the edge of a race ban, meaning he cannot risk anything for the next six events – hardly a good approach for a driver under pressure. Kvyat, to his credit, has suffered misfortune; he was barged out of the way by Sergio Pérez in Monaco, technical glitches robbed him in Canada and Azerbaijan, while his Hungary grid drop was a team miscommunication. However, to have more penalty points than actual points – and to have contributed just four to Toro Rosso's total of 39 – is a desperately poor situation, and his Formula 1 future is in doubt.

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