Scuderia Toro Rosso (Italian for Team Red Bull) is one of two Formula One teams owned by Austrian beverage company Red Bull (The other is Red Bull Racing). It made its racing debut in the 2006 Formula One season, after Paul Stoddart sold his remaining interest in the Minardi team at the end of 2005 to Red Bull's owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, who subsequently struck a 50/50 joint-ownership deal with former F1 driver, Gerhard Berger, before the start of the season. In late November 2008, Red Bull regained total ownership of Toro Rosso after buying back Berger's share of the team.
Scuderia Toro Rosso is the sister team of Red Bull Racing, with the aim of developing the skills of promising drivers for the senior team.
Vitantonio Liuzzi scored the team's first point in its first season at the 2006 United States Grand Prix. The team's first pole position and victory were scored by Sebastian Vettel at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
For the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Toro Rosso uses Ferrari V8 engines, taking over the contract that their senior team broke from at the end of 2006. The team principal is Franz Tost, formerly of BMW's motor sport division. Its latest car, the STR3 is nearly identical to the Red Bull RB4, and both were designed by Adrian Newey.
The team's set 2008 driver lineup was Sebastian Vettel, third driver for BMW Sauber in 2006 before switching to a race seat at Toro Rosso midway through the 2007 season, and Sébastien Bourdais, the four-time winner of the Champcar World Series.
Minardi had competed in Formula One from 1985 to 2005. Despite having a large fan base, they had been one of the least competitive teams in the sport, due to a relatively restricted budget. Owner Paul Stoddart claimed to have had 41 approaches to buy the team, but preferred to sell it to someone who could 'take it further' than he could and who would maintain it in its traditional base in Italy. Included in the terms of the deal with Red Bull was the clause that the team must keep its headquarters in Faenza, Italy until at least the 2007 season.
Whilst Red Bull have abandoned the Minardi name in line with their own sponsorship and marketing plans, the use of the Italian language in the name is intended to hint at the team's Italian heritage. Red Bull changed the name of the team immediately after taking control of the team on 1 November 2005. It was initially reported as 'Squadra Toro Rosso' but then changed because 'squadra' in Italian depicts a 'squad' like a football team, to 'Scuderia Toro Rosso'. Many Minardi fans were upset by this move, and over 15,000 signed an online petition to keep the Minardi name.
Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed were the 2006 race drivers, with Neel Jani filling the test/third driver role. Liuzzi had raced part time for Red Bull Racing in 2005, while Speed entered F1 following the Red Bull Driver Search in the United States. Jani was the test driver for Sauber Petronas in 2004.
The 2006 chassis was a modified version of the 2005 Red Bull Racing RB1. Some teams felt that this infringed the Concorde Agreement as each team is expected to design their own car. Toro Rosso claim that this design was originally produced during 2004 by Jaguar Racing, Red Bull's predecessor, and that the intellectual rights had belonged to the Ford Motor Company, Jaguar Racing's parent company before passing to Toro Rosso.
The team used Minardi's contracted supply of rev limited and air restricted Cosworth 3.0l V10 engines. This concession had been granted to assist less well funded teams by avoiding the cost of sourcing a new supply of V8 engines as required by the 2006 regulations. The continuation of this arrangement after the Red Bull takeover caused friction with other teams, in particular Super Aguri and Midland who felt that the engine conferred too much of an advantage. They contended that the concession to allow the team use a V10 engine was based on Minardi's poor financial situation, and should not have continued to apply after the team achieved a completely different financial footing.
As the season progressed, the Toro Rossos began to struggle in qualifying as their competitors developed their new V8 engines to rev closer to 20,000 rpm to get more power. To try and balance the playing field Toro Rosso asked for an extra 500 revs for qualifying, however the FIA permitted them 300 revs only.
For the 2007 season, Toro Rosso began using the Ferrari 056 V8 engine, taking over the contract that their senior team broke from by switching to Renault power.
At the launch of the STR2 on 13 February, Gerhard Berger confirmed Liuzzi as a 2007 driver. In testing in Bahrain on 24 February, Scott Speed was confirmed as the team's second driver. Three-time Champ Car champion Sébastien Bourdais was unofficial test driver several times during the season.
The team appointed new technical director Giorgio Ascanelli to replace temporary stand-in Alex Hitzinger on 2 April.
The 2007 season was generally disappointing, with poor reliability and driver errors leading to a low finishing record. Following the European Grand Prix, Speed was dropped under controversial circumstances and was replaced by BMW Sauber development driver Sebastian Vettel who was later confirmed for 2008.
At the Chinese Grand Prix the Toro Rosso scored their best results, with Vettel finishing fourth and Vitantonio Liuzzi sixth, scoring eight points for the team. These were also the drivers' best finishes in Formula One. It was a marked improvement over the preceding Japanese Grand Prix, where Vettel crashed into Mark Webber's Red Bull under safety car conditions while they were running second and third respectively, and Liuzzi lost a potential point after a 25-second penalty for overtaking Adrian Sutil's Spyker for eighth under waved yellow flags dropped him to ninth.
Scuderia Toro Rosso's drivers for 2008 were Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Bourdais. Bourdais earned his first points in F1 with a 7th place finish at the Australian Grand Prix. Vettel scored his first points with the team with a 5th place finish at the Monaco Grand Prix. The team showed steady improvement throughout the season, leading up to a solid performance at the Belgian Grand Prix which saw both cars running in the top six for most of the race, and with Bourdais and Vettel running 3rd and 4th respectively on the final lap until cars on tires better suited to the extreme wet conditions passed them, demoting Vettel to 5th and Bourdais to 7th. The double points finish moved STR above Honda and level with Williams in the Constructor's Championship.
The team pulled off a massive shock at the wet Italian Grand Prix, with Vettel claiming a first pole position and the first win for himself and the team. This was the first win by a team based in Italy other than Ferrari since the 1957 German Grand Prix, which was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Maserati. Vettel beat second-place Heikki Kovalainen by 12 seconds. Vettel was at it again in the next race, the Singapore Grand Prix, Formula One's first ever night race. Vettel qualified 7th and finished the race in 5th, while Bourdais could only manage 12th.
At the next race in Japan Vettel again showed his class finishing 6th. Bourdais, meanwhile, was doing well, until Felipe Massa, who had been running in 8th tried to overtake Bourdais. Massa had climbed up to 8th place after having dropped down to 13th as a result of his drive-through and his first pit-stop. Just after Bourdais left the pitlane after making his final stop, Massa attempted to pass him and the two cars collided at the first corner. Massa spun, but rejoined the track and eventually finished 8th. Bourdais finished the race in 6th place, but had 25 seconds added to his overall time as penalty for the incident, dropping him down to 10th place. This ultimately had the effect of promoting Massa to 7th place, and giving him an extra championship point. It was a controversial penalty, and Bourdais was adamant that he was not to blame.