Guest Author - Christine Blachford
No one expected Toro Rosso to get their first win this year, not even the team themselves. Theyíre still a relatively new team on the grid and they boast one of the youngest lineups in the paddock. Even at the start of the year, they were struggling. However, they brought in a new car and you could immediately see the difference.
The early races were difficult for the team. Bourdais had a great debut race, although unlucky, but struggled to shine for the rest of the season. He was getting to grips with the car, and for his first year in Formula 1, he did very well. However, expectations were raised this year, as Hamilton has raised the bar for rookies, and Bourdais has won five championships, albeit in a very different series.
Vettel had a very poor start to the season, barely finishing in the first few races. With the new car, suddenly he was competitive and it wasnít unusual to see the pair of them getting into the third session of qualifying. When it came to Italy, a little bit of rain, and some struggling championship leaders, meant the team could capitalise on their speed and take pole position and the win. Vettel broke all manner of records and it was a great moment in the season.
As I mentioned in the Red Bull review, their sister team, Toro Rosso, outshone them at almost every stage. Red Bull never looked close to winning a race, whereas STR could have gone on to another victory, if luck had gone their way again. Now, though, Red Bull have poached Sebastian Vettel to replace the retired David Coulthard, and Toro Rosso have to decide who they are going to give their race seats too.
They tested out three drivers at the recent Barcelona test, with Bourdais, Buemi and a returning Takuma Sato. Apparently Mateschitz believes Buemi is the most likely candidate for one of the race seats, but itís still up in the air who will get the other one. Barrichello and Bruno Senna are both apparently in the frame as well. Bourdais has said that the team are looking for a pay driver, so itís all about who can bring the most money with him.
When we know the lineup, weíll have a better idea of which direction Toro Rosso are going to take in 2009, but I hope, and Iím sure they do, that the increased competitiveness continues.