Today we have revealed the Toro Rosso car. The pictures published, we see that the livery is nothing much different from the colours of the last couple of years – but more intriguing to eagle-eyed fans is the look of the car and it’s similarity to last year’s Red Bull Racing RB14.
Back in the early days of Red Bull starting out taking over Jaguar along with their purchase of the Minardi team to create Toro Rosso, their junior team – the rules allowed a near complete sharing of chassis design between teams.
The Toro Rosso that gave Sebastian Vettel his maiden victory in Monza 2008, was very much an Adrian Newey design and more or less a clone, albeit with a slightly different engine and gearbox configuration, to the Red Bull Racing RB4.
By 2010 Toro Rosso were an independent team, the FIA had already mandated that teams had to become full manufacturers and design and build their own cars. This move was to try and prevent dual data acquisition for a parent team, a powerful tactic useful in an era of limited testing, and one only the very richest could afford to do.
Toro Rosso became fully independent and officially nothing to do with Red Bull Racing in Milton Keynes (except this Judge knows a few data engineers in MK who unofficially work for Toro Rosso in Italy, but I digress).
The Haas team then pushed the concept of ‘stock parts’ from another team (Ferrari) to its limit when they entered the F1 circus, causing other manufacturers to cry out ‘foul play!’ – the FIA eventually tightening the regulations to prevent excessive use of shared car parts, sold to another team.
Haas continues to cause debate every time a new car is launched, the owners claiming that aerodynamically their car absolutely has to look similar to the Ferrari as their suspension and other ‘stock’ components dictate the airflow over the body. Being in the same wind tunnel as Ferrari has little to do with it, apparently.
It seems that the Red Bull bosses are very concerned with the adoption of Honda, and they themselves are pushing the Toro Rosso design team back toward the senior team’s car in a bid to give their Honda partnership a chance of some success for 2019 onwards.
We are very likely going to see the Toro Rosso and the Red Bull Racing cars look near identical in aero concepts this year, Toro Rosso being the sacrificial lamb to test new Honda parts for the senior team, and to do that the cars need to be as similar as possible.
It’s already been reported that as both teams will run Honda engines next they will share a complete rear end, including rear suspension, plus some front suspension parts.
“I think it’s a big advantage,” says Honda technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.
“Of course they [Red Bull] have a slightly different design and we need to adapt to each team but it’s not a big specification change, but we have double the data,
“Not only trackside, but on the development side.” concludes Tanabe.
I love the way the sidepod top surface rolls over to direct airflow under the Coke bottle shape, very Newey-esque , pushing more air pressure over the diffuser pic.twitter.com/iTU61fqynH
— Craig Scarborough (@ScarbsTech) February 11, 2019
Since the reveal today of the new Toro Rosso chassis, it’s pretty clear to those who know what to look for that the body is very similar to the Red Bull of 2018, which makes logical sense, as Red Bull’s chief designer Adrian Newey always builds on the previous car’s he’s designed, always an evolution and never a revolution. Therefore the 2019 Red Bull will share much of its aero concepts with the previous car.
Therefore, when we look at this Toro Rosso, it’s a very high likelihood that the Red Bull 2019 RB15 will look identical.
Red Bull will of course defend their strategy, and claim that they’re within the regulations (they probably are, technically).
It’s an interesting thing for fans to speculate on and note about during the car launches, but equally this tactic by the biggest teams and manufacturers only serves a purpose that will continue to widen the gap between the top teams and the F1 ‘B league’.