In 2009, Sebastian Vettel, driving for then-Formula 1 team Toro Rosso, secured the team’s first – and only – victory in the sport.
14 September 2009 saw torrential rainfall drastically affect the Italian GP, but it was Vettel and Toro Rosso who came out tops against the McLarens of Heiki Kovaleinen and Lewis Hamilton. It was a high point in Toro Rosso’s history that would never again be repeated.
Sadly for the Toro Rosso, Vettel jumped ship to Red Bull Racing at the end of that season and they would continue to be Red Bull’s B-team.
For the next decade, Toro Rosso has been fighting in the F1 midfield and hasn’t made much impact on the overall standings at the end of each season. Though they have been competitive and returned several impressive results, the team simply never could generate the same success as on 14 September 2009.
With the new F1 season ready to take flight, Toro Rosso also turned its image around. And quite drastically, too. From 2020 onwards, the team will be known as Scuderia Alpha Tauri, and they also have a new livery on their new race cars.
Fun fact: Alpha Tauri means Alpha Bulls in Romanian, which is a clear nod to the bull associated with Red Bull (and Toro Rosso). In 2016, Red Bull's fashion brand was founded and was named Alpha Tauri.
Bridging the gap
For all teams participating in F1, the ultimate goal is to end a season with both the constructors and drivers championships secured. Of course, a generous budget and infinite expertise does play a role in that. For Alpha Tauri (Toro Rosso), however, they’ve had to rely on Red Bull’s ‘second-hand’ resources all these years, given that they were the B-team.
But things have taken a turn for the better in 2020, as with the name change does not only come a new team colour, but they are now rated as Red Bull’s sister-team. What this means is that the team will benefit directly from the champion team’s resources and not get the hand-me-downs, as has been the case previously.
Alpha Tauri, according to Helmut Marko, is about six months behind Red Bull in terms of resources, but in due time the gap will be closed. In so doing bridge the performance gap between them and have both teams fight it out for F1 supremacy against the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.
2020 and beyond
As with any new venture, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of what is actually taking place. Of course, Alpha Tauri will want to compete, alongside Red Bull, against Ferrari and Mercedes, but so too is all the other teams competing in the sport.
Alpha Tauri does have the advantage of having Red Bull in their corner, but the team is left with a mountain to climb if they are to rattle the establishment.
It’s fair to assume that 2020 will not see a radical change to the pecking order, and that Mercedes will again seal overall victory ahead of Ferrari and Red Bull (unless a surprise comes about). Where Alpha Tauri is likely to make an impression is in the battle for fourth place, behind the top three teams. Last year, McLaren finished ahead of Renault and Toro Rosso; which leaves only the hope that Alpha Tauri's best shot at glory in 2020 is a fourth place finish at the end of the year.
In Pierre Gasley and Daniil Kvyat, the team has two drivers who are keen to get the maximum result. If 'cool heads' can prevail, the team could improve on their 2019 showing and give both Renault and McLaren a good run for their money.