Formula One 2012 half-term report: Toro Rosso and Force India

Yesterday was the turn of the “Q1 massive” — Caterham, Marussia and HRT, bless em. Two of them got an A for effort; it’s hard not to be impressed with their doggedness and, in the case of HRT and Marussia, the raw fact that they are making their cars faster. Relatively of course.

Today’s teams will not get an A. Toro Rosso and Sahara Force India have been the big losers in what was always expected to be one hell of midfield battle, what with fractions of a second making the difference between Q2 and Q3 this year, and indeed, in the case of Toro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vergne through Q1 and Q2.

Let’s get it straight, Toro Rosso is a luxury only Red Bull could afford to pay for: a bona fide, well funded talent school for F1 drivers. Thrive and show real flair and there is a real opportunity of a drive with the team that’s built the fastest car in F1 for the last three seasons, Red Bull. Fail to shine and the team will, not unreasonably, call for the next two faces down the audition line. Jaime Alguesuari and Sebastien Buemi will tell you that. And yet last year’s axed pairing scored over 40 points. Hardly impressive, but consider this season’s team of Vergne and Aussie Daniel Ricciardo have so far amassed just four.

Frankly on that performance Toro Rosso deserves to be judged alongside the Caterhams, Marussias and HRTs in the company of whom Vergne has watched Q2 and Q3 no less than five times this year. And yet both he and Ricciardo arrived on a wave of huge hype, Ricciardo especially after he blitzed the Young Driver Test for Red Bull. Only once, qualifying sixth in Bahrain this season, has Ricciardo looked like the man in that car in that test.

So what’s going on? Are Ricciardo and Vergne (and indeed Alguesuari and Buemi) to blame or is it the team, to whom we are awarding a big D grade? From the sofa, TR has never seemed to have had much in the way of stability or strong management or the kind of specialists that make a difference to a car’s speed. Does Red Bull need to sack the current Toro Rosso structure before it spoils the dreams of any more drivers?

Paul di Resta might be feeling the same. Force India is a long way ahead of Toro Rosso on 56 points, at the back of the pack that includes Williams and Sauber and Mercedes, two of which have won races. And yet their grip on that pack is loosening and it’s starting to show in the drivers who are mindful that Force India, though not as ruthless as Toro Rosso, has made a habit of taking a one-in/one out approach each year to its driver contracts.

Nico Hulkenberg, forced to sit 2011 out despite scoring his pole position for Williams, appears now to have the bit between his teeth and his improved performance relative to di Resta is dragging the team forward. Di Resta meanwhile seems a little uncomfortable. There was talk about a Mercedes or even a Ferrari drive in 2013 before the break, he’ll need to come back in a better frame of mind if he’s going to keep track of that sort of ambition.

Once again, it is important to point out just how close it is in the pack, but young Paul and indeed the team need to see that as an opportunity not an excuse. Force India declared it was aiming for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship this year, it’s currently a slightly distant eighth. Sorry boys, but that’s a C from us on the sofa.

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i think it is the team on which you give that D grade because the driver is very good (ricciardo,in no way vergne, hes shockingly awful) and i feel the same about force india because they were genuinely excellent last year but this year they are behind williams and sauber and toro rosso only in my eyes made it to eighth last year because williams were falling depressingly into the mire of the minnows.
last year was btw the most depressing year for competitional fans like myself since 2004 and then the worst year for williams since 94

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@formuladude: vergne is like all new f1 drivers, he just needs time to settle in.

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hes had half a year anonymous 2, how long would you give him? ricciardo has qualified inside the top quarter of the grid in bahrain.on the other hand vergne has been lucky to get out of Q1 pretty much every race. it is partially that the team have failed built a good car this year and havent made it past double figures for points yet and are unlikely to do so.but ricciardo has proven himself in a subpar car and vergne simply hasnt

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look if they put another driver in the seat next year, and make him test driver, it’ll work out. look at hulkenberg. in 2010, he was not that good. he only had a pole to celebrate. in 2011, he was test driver for force india, and look at him now. he’s good now! i’d give him next year as a test driver, then reinstate him in 2014, formuladude.

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good point but i dont think he’ll be like hulkenberg. anyway,a pole isnt bad to say williams only came sixth and were around average in 2010

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Reblogged this on f1blogged and commented:
I want to write something like this, im getting beat to it.

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Excellent article might I add, I think the performance difficulty with Force India is the CAR, Paul Di Resta has proved himself to be a mature consistent driver, repeatadly finishing in the top 10.

I’m biased. Sorry people.

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Not to get off topic but I wanted to share this video link that any true petrolhead will appreciate. Not spam I’m serious ws/the-world-s-greatest-d rag-race-2-.html

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