Team 4: Toro Rosso

On the fourth day of Christmas, Ben Sweeney gave to me… Toro Rosso

(c) Auto Mobil Life

‘Out with the old and in with the new’ was Toro Rosso’s policy for 2012 and they had a complete shake up with their driving pairing. They sacked Sebastian Buemi who headed to Red Bull as a reserve driver while Jaime Alguersuari who was also given the boot, headed to Pirelli as a test driver for the tire manufacturer.

Instead, Red Bull’s sister team took on Daniel Ricciardo who had spent half a season at Hispania in 2011, and he partnered Jean-Eric Vergne who was heading into his inaugural Grand Prix in Australia. Vergne’s first race started badly though when he was hit by Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India who was then pushed into home-boy Mark Webber. On the other hand, the other home-boy Daniel Ricciardo, had a great start to his season and finished his race in 9th.

It was Vergne’s turn to score the points in Malaysia when he finished ahead of his Aussie team-mate, 8th to 12th in favour of the Frenchman. In China, the two lined up in formation; Vergne 16th and Ricciardo 17th, as they did in Bahrain with 14th and 15th followed by 12th and 13th in Spain, All in favour of Vergne.

Ricciardo fell out of the Monaco Grand Prix with a steering failure while his team-mate made it to 12th, before finishing 15th in Montreal where he was finally trumped by his team-mate who finished 14th.

Daniel again finished ahead of Vergne in Valencia when he finished 11th, which was helped by the fact that Vergne took himself out of the race. While overtaking Kovalainen, ironically where Mark Webber had crashed into the same driver two years before, he t-boned the finn, in a straight line! The Frenchman was out of the race and fined a hefty €25,000 fine and a 10-place grid drop for the idiotic move.

Ricciardo celebrated his 1st year in the sport with 13th in Silverstone followed by Vergne who finished 14th; Not bad after suffering his 10-place grid drop. In Germany the two finished 13th and 14th in an identical result to the race beforehand, before finishing 15th (Ricciardo) and 16th (Vergne) in Hungary.

(c) The Checkered Flag

They scored their first points since Malaysia when Vergne finished 8th and Ricciardo finished 9th. Vergne retired in Monza when his suspension failed and he was launched over the kerbs while the team tried to pin it on driver error. Ricciardo finished 12th as his team-mate walked home.

Vergne was no-more successful in Singapore when Schumacher crashed into the back of him following a brakes failure on the German’s Mercedes. Ricciardo on the other hand finished in the points for three races in a row when he placed 9th in Singapore, 10th in Japan and 9th in Korea while Vergne finished 13th in Japan and joined his team-mate in the points in Korea when he finished 8th.

Jean-Eric Vergne kamikazed into Schumacher at the beginning of the Indian Grand Prix to get even for Singapore, leaving Schumi with a puncture. Daniel Ricciardo was also in the wars when he gave Sergio Perez a puncture in a picture perfect incident to the Schumi/Vergne incident which happened at the same corner just a few laps beforehand. Ricciardo finished 13th and Vergne finished 15th.

Abu Dhabi saw a downright bizarre incident with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo. Under safety car conditions, Vettel was behind the Toro Rosso who was accelerating and decelerating rapidly to keep his brakes warm. He caught Vettel out who was then forced to leave the track and hit a polystyrene board to avoid Ricciardo. Vettel absolutely blasted the Aussie on the team-radio and Ricciardo did as much as he could to get out of Vettel’s way when the safety car came in. Ricciardo went on to finish 10th with Vergne in 12th.

Vergne had a weekend to forget at the Austin Grand Prix, suffering a suspension failure at turn 7 during FP3 and later suffering the exact same problem at the exact same corner during the race. Ricciardo finished the race and was 12th crossing the line.

And so they descended upon Brazil which was set to host the championship decider. Toro Rosso were one of the only teams to not really feature in the race, apart from moving over to let Vettel pass whenever he needed to. They finished the race with Vergne 8th and Ricciardo 13th.

However, several days later, a video surfaced online showing Vettel overtaking Vergne under yellow flags. This would demote him (After a penalty) and Alonso would win the Championship. The FIA took a look and decided it was a big load of… nothing. Crisis over.

Season in a Paragraph: 
I personally think that Toro Rosso should have kept their 2011 line up of Alguersuari and Buemi but I suppose three years in a team with nothing big to show for it perfectly warrants a change. Yet, Vergne and Ricciardo, the latter looking promising in a HRT, seemed to disappoint in the Toro Rosso’s, regularly being the two to drop out in the Q1 session along with the backmarkers. It’s no surprise that they finished in 9th in the constructors as all other teams above them scored at least one podium, except for Force India who came mighty close in Brazil and Valencia. I’ll be hoping for a stronger performance from the team next year who are capable of more.

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