Scuderia Toro Rosso announced on December 4 that they will be powered by a Ferrari powertrain in 2016, replacing Renault as their power unit supplier. After the acquisition of Lotus F1 team by the French manufacturer on Thursday, Toro Rosso was able to confirm their engine supplier for next season ending a partnership of two F1 seasons.
Due to the break in relationships between Red Bull Racing and Renault, a new engine supplier was required.The deal with new sponsors TAG-Heuer, who ended a 30-year long association with McLaren, hopes to cover for the engine costs of both Red Bull sponsored teams.
Looking at the 2015 season, the Ferrari-supplied cars showed more straight-line speed than the Renaults. Both Red Bull and Toro Rosso cars had to rely on better aerodynamics to take the fight to teams like Williams, Force India and Sauber.
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After the end of the season, Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen showed his disappointment with the lack of power of the Renault engine: “I think if we had a really good engine we would have been on the podium (…) we could have definitely challenged Williams”, said the young Dutch driver to ESPN.
The ambition of Verstappen is certainly shared by his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. Both drivers hope to stay with the team until they can take a step-up the ladder and join the main Red Bull team, emulating the path of current Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.
However, with the difference in power that Ferrari and Renault powered cars showed in 2015, we may well see a Toro Rosso overtake a Red Bull in 2016.
Red Bull will have the advantage in aerodynamic performance, with Adrian Newey leading the department. However, with most tracks on the calendar relying on engine performance, the deficit of horsepower carried by the Renault engine could be a task too difficult to surpass for the four-time F1 constructor’s champions, giving the opportunity to Toro Rosso to leave the main team behind.
Red Bull confirmed their presence in the pre-season testing in Barcelona at the end of February. Due to a change in engine supplier, we are still waiting for confirmation from the Italian-based team.
The 2016 Formula One season starts on March 20 for the Australian Grand Prix.