Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Scuderia Torro Ross, or the Red Bull Stable, was formed in 2005 when Red Bull bought the ailing Minardi team. The Torro Rosso team was created in order to provide an environment to encourage the development of promising young drivers, with the intention of promoting successful drivers to the main Red Bull Racing team. The team is jointly owned by Red Bull and former F1 driver, Gerhard Berger.
The team’s first season of racing took place in 2006. It finished 9th overall, which was generally regarded as a disappointing result. Throughout the season, the team had been subject to controversy, whether it was contention over allowances made to the team on the performance of its engine, or the antics of its American driver Scott Speed.
Torro Rosso continued to use Minardi’s Cosworth V10 engines, a concession granted by the FIA to protect less well funded F1 teams from the need to switch over to the more expensive V8 engines. However, with the funding of Red Bull in place, rival teams argued that the concession should no longer be granted.
The team were allowed to continue using the engine until the end of the season, when it picked up the contract for Ferrari V8’s which the main Red Bull Racing team had dropped. The team’s best performance of 2006 came at the US Grand Prix, when Vitantonio Liuzzi finished 8th. Speed managed to finish in 11th position 3 times throughout the season. The team only managed to score one point throughout the season, placing them 9th overall.
The 2007 season was slightly more successful, with the team managing to finish in 7th place overall. However, it was not without its share of controversy. Scott Speed’s contract was terminated half-way through the season, after a string of poor performances. After the European Grand Prix, in which both Torro Rosso drivers crashed in the early stages, Speed apparently had a physical confrontation with team principal Franz Tost.
Speed only completed 3 of the 10 races he took part in during 2007, and after retiring in the US Grand Prix, and making a series of allegations about the team, Speed left the Torro Rosso fold. He was replaced by junior BMW Sauber driver, Sebastian Vettel. After a series of poor performances from the new arrival, Vettel managed Torro Rosso’s best ever performance at the Chinese Grand Prix, just missing the podium in fourth place. His team mate, Liuzzi, also achieved a career best, finishing 6th. This earned the team 8 points, allowing them to finish the season in 7th place. 2007 was Liuzzi’s last season with Torro Rosso. In 2008 he will be replaced by Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, who moves to Formula 1 from Champ Car Racing, where he has held the World Series for four consecutive years.
Minardi and Stoddard
Scuderia Toro Rosso emerged from the Minardi F1 team. Minardi competed in the Formula 1 championship between 1985 and 2005, never once achieving a podium position in its twenty years. That the Minardi team continued to exist throughout the period of consolidation in F1 teams during the 90s, is testament to the devotion of the Italian public to motorsport.
The team was the first to use Ferrari engines in its cars, and most of its drivers were Italian. Despite its lack of glamour and success, it retained a widespread fanbase, being seen as a dying breed of independent Italian racing teams. However, as financial concerns continued to weigh on the company, it merged with Scuderia Italiana, and eventually sought assistance from Australian investor, Tony Stoddart, who was committed to retaining Minardi’s distinctive character.
However, Stoddart eventually sought a buyer for the team, and claimed to have had 41 expressions of interest. However, he was only willing to sell to a buyer who would keep the team headquartered in its Northern Italian home of Faenza. Red Bull, the eventual buyers, agreed to this condition, but insisted upon changing the name. The fact the new name is Italian is a small concession to the 15,000 fans who signed the unsuccessful petition to keep the original team name.