Formula 1

Toro Rosso and Red Bull will lock horns.

Red Bull and Toro Rosso set for 2016 tussle

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Few have left a clearer mark on the F1 paddock in their debut year than Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

At just 18-years-old, Verstappen has lived up to the hype that surrounded him after receiving plaudits from many top figures in the sport.

His aggressive overtaking has made him a fan favourite, and his incredible speed, highlighted by two fourth-place finishes and 12th end of year ranking in the drivers' championship, shows he has the potential to become a future star.

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As for Sainz, his speed has also turned heads while rivalling his teammate's times, but bad luck and inconsistency resulted in his final figures being not nearly as impressive as they should have been.

Continuing their rise

Heading into 2016, the emphasis switches from making an impression to making a lasting one, and that is particularly true at Toro Rosso given the number of young prospects who have shown promise only to disappoint.

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Looking to the upcoming season, which begins in Australia on March 20, Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost believes his two drivers are well prepared to cope with the pressure often placed on those entering their second year in the team.

He told F1i.com: “Maybe, in the early part of the year, we must be careful not to push them too hard, because sometimes, in a driver’s second season with us, they can think they must demonstrate a clear step up in performance.

“The result of this attitude is that they then tend to overdrive the car. However, I believe this will not be the case with Carlos and Max, because they gained the necessary experience last year. Therefore I am more than positive about 2016 from the driver point of view.”

Red Bull battle awaits?

Toro Rosso is gearing up for what could be a very interesting year as they could easily find themselves locking horns with sister team Red Bull.

That is because while the former world champions find themselves still using the underperforming Renault power unit, the Italian team has returned to using Ferrari engines, albeit to 2015 specifications.

AUTO-PRIX-FORMULE1-RED-BULL

Given the gap between the two power units last year, it will be interesting to see if Renault can make the jump in performance to match what Maranello produced. If not, that is where Toro Rosso can capitalise.

Aerodynamically the Red Bull RB12 is still expected to be one of the best on the grid. Therefore, Toro Rosso need to take advantage early on when the Renault PU will be at its weakest, because it's likely Red Bull will only get stronger as the season progresses.

Ricciardo & Kvyat also fighting for future

It is not just the Toro Rosso drivers who need to fight for their future, however. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat must either look to ensure their current seat or impress other teams for a place in 2017.

Ricciardo is coming off a horrible second year at Red Bull with only two podium results as he dropped from third in 2014 to eighth in the drivers standings, even behind his Russian teammate.

The jury may still be out on just how good the Australian is, but should Red Bull fail to show any signs of progress, he may consider switching to the likes of McLaren, Ferrari or even Mercedes if the tension between the two drivers continues.

As for Kvyat, he handled the hostile situation well by achieving some good results towards the end of the season, but with pressure from the Toro Rosso pair for a seat in 2017, he will need to prove himself worthy of retaining his spot.

These ingredients have all the makings of an intriguing in-house battle. Given the excitement Verstappen and Sainz produced last year, we can be sure they won't let us down in 2016.

Will Red Bull dominate once again in 2016? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Topics:
Formula 1
Carlos Sainz Jr.
Max Verstappen

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