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The Character of Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso is a team with a lot going for it. For a start, it is all that remains of the Minardi saga, in spite of its rather silly name. And it is run by one of F1′s most mischievous characters, Gerhard Berger. Add to that the fact that it is the only team to have an American driver in its line-up and I have to keep an eye on it.


Scott Speed

Anyone with a smattering of a Latin language knows that Toro Rosso is Italian for Red Bull; it’s a pity that the company boss, Dietrich Mateschitz, felt it was so important to rename the team for the corporation even though there was so much goodwill attached to the Minardi name. As a result, the team has to build a completely new image of its own without the lingering aura that surrounded Minardi.

But it is happening. Thanks largely to Berger’s love of fun, Toro Rosso begins to emerge as the “bad boy” in the paddock, the team that bucks authority and goes its own way. The irreverent nature of its press releases may be a bit cheesy but at least they’re different from the usual bland, careful statements.

It remains hard to see the team as separate from the Red Bull giant, however, and their use of an obvious copy of the parent company’s RB3 chassis confirms that impression. Although they lag behind Red Bull in development of the car, it is quite likely that they will benefit from the gains made in that camp and will become ever more competitive as the season progresses. The alternative would be to develop independently and find their own tweaks to what is beginning to look a very sound design. That is their best hope of catching and overtaking the parent company, although it also carries the risk of failure and a season spent at the back of the grid with Spyker and Super Aguri.

It remains to be seen which route they will choose. And we also await a verdict on the abilities of the Toro Rosso drivers. Last season was inconclusive, with Liuzzi doing better than Speed in the early season but generally overshadowed by him later on. And so far this year that has continued, with first one then the other getting the upper hand. It is very hard to rate them without a driver of known quality to compare them with.

For some reason that I do not understand, Liuzzi is highly regarded in F1 circles – perhaps because of his performances in the lower formulae. Yet, if we look at the cold statistics, Speed has performed at least as well as Vitantonio and should be accorded the same respect. I suspect that the reason he is not rated is a matter of personality, rather than talent. Scott’s pre-F1 record is impressive too but his character is seemingly laid back, informal and altogether too “nice”.

One would think that Berger, of all people, would understand that an irreverent attitude is no bar to driving talent, seeing that he was renowned for practical jokes when paired with Ayrton Senna, but apparently our Austrian hero wants others to be more serious than himself. There is a vast ambition in Berger that shows itself in his goals for Toro Rosso and I think it is this that led him to string Speed along during the off season – he wants to see the same drive in the American.

I would suggest that Scott Speed has already demonstrated a hidden and understated drive that is exactly what Berger is looking for. This is the same man who raced while suffering from a debilitating disease and conquered it. The light-hearted, nice guy persona is cover, that’s all.

All this will be irrelevant if Toro Rosso cannot develop their equipment, however. They lack the depth of experience that other teams have and so must work that much harder to bring their car to its full potential. Many doubt that they can do it but I think the spirit of Minardi hovers over the team and will ensure that they get down to business and produce the goods in the end.

Yeah, it’s true, I like ‘em and forgive their weaknesses as a result. But at least they have some character…

6 Responses to “The Character of Toro Rosso”

  1. In my view, Toro Rosso cars are a pleasure to watch, partly because their graphics are terrific, and partly because of their potential. As for apparent lack of attention to Scott Speed’s achievements, my guess would be that his image is suffering… as are most Americans’ images… from the criminal activities of Bush and his crooked cronies. When the stuff hits the fan, everybody gets dirty.

  2. Yet America still means big business, Barry – and that means big money. Bernie is still eager to get more Americans into F1 for that reason. And I’d like to see more because it would increase the popularity of the sport here.

  3. If northamerica (or Bernie) wants to make a decent entrance to F1, they should start by NOT entering with a guy that his last name is “Speed”. That’s simply ridiculous. Worst, it’s the american way. This is no town fair, this is F1. I’m really pissed since Mr. Speed entered F1 and can’t wait to see him ditched.

    Now Marco Andretti… there’s a name F1 should have again.

    Scott Speed. Really. Ridiculous.

    On the other hand, I really miss Minardi, and I think Toro Rosso lacks that “thing” they had. They may be faster than your average Minardi, but they aren’t as lovely.

    Besides, naming your team Toro “Rosso” is a poor way to make people think you’re fast. You know, “rosso” corsa is the Ferrari brand colour.

    Anyway, I dislike Toro Rosso.

  4. Hah, I think Scott Speed is a pretty cool name for an F1 driver, Haplo – a bit obvious, maybe, but it sets out the intent at least! You may well get your wish, however, as Scott does not seem to be attracting much attention so far, whereas Marco Andretti is due to enter F1 soon.

    You’re right that Toro Rosso does not have Minardi-cool as yet but they’re the closest we have left, thanks to their light-hearted approach. As long as Berger remains in charge, they have a chance of replacing Minardi in our hearts. Imagine if they start beating the Red Bull team – would that make you like them any better?

  5. Actually, if they start beating ANYONE, i’d like them even worst! No, I really don’t like Toro Rosso. There’s no cure to it ;)

  6. Now that’s what I like to see – a bit of passion! Good for you, Haplo. :D

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