Tuesday, August 29, 2017

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Scuderia Toro Rosso

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images

Team Grade: C+

Driver Grades
Carlos Sainz Jr: B
Daniil Kvyat: D

No one in the sport of Formula 1 mistakes the fact that the Italian-based Toro Rosso race team is heavily influenced by Red Bull Racing. Both drivers competing with Red Bull Racing were recruited directly from Toro Rosso machines.

While switching back to Renault power units after a season with Ferrari power, Toro Rosso has shown no major movement away from their 2016 performance. Toro Rosso is still a steady mid-marker organization on the Formula 1 grid for 2017 with their STR12 race machine (similar to Red Bull Racing, the Renault name does not appear on Toro Rosso vehicles).

In his third consecutive season with the team, Carlos Sainz Jr has developed into a solid top-10 runner. In 11 races, the Spaniard collected championship points in seven events with his season-best performance being a sixth place at the Monaco Grand Prix. Sainz suffered retirements in all four races where is missed the top-10.

Since being ‘demoted’ back to Toro Rosso after his stint with Red Bull Racing was abruptly ended after an on-track incident in the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, Daniil Kvyat has not been able to carryover the consistency he found through 2015. Since rejoining Toro Rosso, the Russian has finished no better than ninth place. In point finishes in Australia and Spain, Kvyat crossed the line on both intenses in ninth.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

With exception to the unforgettable Sebastian Vettel victory at the Italian Grand Prix with the team, Toro Rosso has long-appeared content with motorsport mediocrity. Contending at the lower portion of the top-10 through qualifying and on race day, a podium result would jazz-up this otherwise humdrum group.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Renault Sport Formula One Team

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images

Team Grade: C

Driver Grades
Nico Hulkenberg: B-
Jolyon Palmer: D+

Repurchasing their formerly-owned team late in 2015, Renault started the 2016 Formula 1 season behind the eightball. Through the entire 2016 tour, Renault Sport Formula One Team scored just eight points. 2017 has been accepted as another rebuilding year with a great deal of focus in collecting the pieces needed for better performances.

Joining Renault in 2017 was seasoned German pilot Nico Hulkenberg who brought a history of consistency with mid-marker teams in Formula 1. Hulkenberg has scored five finishes in the top-10 so far this season. The Renault race team only had three point-scoring finishes total in 2016 between both drivers. Second generation Formula 1 racer Jolyon Palmer returned to the second Renault R.S. 17. Palmer is still chasing his first point-scoring finish in a 2017 Formula 1 event.

The performance differential between the Renault Sport Formula One teammates has generally been wide. Nico Hulkenberg has proven not only to be better performing on Sunday but also shown the speed potential of the R.S. 17 in qualifying conditions. The German driver placed his Renault into the final Q3 session six times so far in 2017. Jolyon Palmer’s less than remarkable outings this season has resulted in only a few occasions where is placed higher than Hulkenberg. While most team-leading race finishes by Palmer were virtue of a retirement suffered by his teammate, he did out-place Hulkenberg at the Austrian Grand Prix while both Renault cars completed the event.  

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

Nico Hulkenberg will likely continue being the primary breadwinner for the Renault team in 2017. Jolyon Palmer is undoubtedly eager to post points this season being one of only two regular drivers yet to register a point for 2017. It Palmer succeeds, it will only be his second time in his career. Renault’s history in Formula 1 leaves room for optimism heading forward through the remaining races of 2017 and beyond. Entering the sport in 1977 and returning in 2002 in the position as a constructor, Renault has twice been turned around into a front-running competitor after less successful opening seasons.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Sauber F1 Team

Photo Credit: Sauber F1® Team / Sauber Motorsport AG 

Team Grade: C-

Driver Grades
Pascal Wehrlein: C+
Marcus Ericsson: D

Part of the Formula 1 grid since 1993, Peter Sauber gave up ownership of his team in the late part of 2016. Now controlled by Longbow Finance (a Swiss-based investment firm), the new owners and managers of the motorsport group appear intent to maintain the Sauber F1 Team branding. For 2017, the team acknowledges 25 years of competition in Formula 1. The Sauber team’s new owners have yet to immediately change the fortunes of the struggling organization.

After 11 races in the 2017 Formula 1 season, Sauber has scored five points coming entirely from German Pascal Wehrlein. Driving last season for the now-defunct Manor Racing team, Wehrlein missed the first two grand prix events as a result of injuries suffered in pre-season Race of Champions event. Sauber test driver Antonio Giovinazzi served as a replacement for the Australian Grand Prix and Chinese Grand Prix. Giovinazzi finished 12th in his Formula 1 debut but was involved in a massive crash at the Shanghai International Circuit. An accident closely mirroring a qualifying crash the Italian endured a day prior, Giovinazzi escaped both incidents unhurt. Participating with Sauber for a third consecutive season is Swedish pilot Marcus Ericsson. Finishing 11th place twice before the Formula 1 summer break, Ericsson hasn’t scored a Formula 1 championship point since the 2015 Italian Grand Prix.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

There remains a chance that the Sauber team will be able to add to their constructors’ point total for 2017 in the remaining races. However, while both Wehrlein and Ericsson will be competing to break into the rear portion of the top-10, the team’s primary devotion may be slated towards 2018. Much of the performance disadvantage with the race cars is connected to the team’s deal with Ferrari for year-old spec engines. Planning for next year, Sauber has already secured an arrangement to receive Ferrari power units built to current specifications.