Three races into the season and Scuderia Toro Rosso have finally received their new machine, the STR3. Designed by parent team Red Bull Racing and bearing a strong resemblance to the RB4 currently driven by Mark Webber and David Coulthard, it is hoped the new motor will help the team in getting further into the midfield. Sebastien Bourdais was the second driver to run it around a circuit, turning up this morning at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya to take part in the test session with other teams. The car has already been shaken down by New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley at Vairano a couple of weeks ago.
Tomorrow the reigns will be handed over to team Sebastian Vettel who will spend another day testing and developing the new car. Vettel was also in the headlines today though for a slightly different reason. The young driver, who has impressed many in his short time spent in F1 so far, has been tipped for a promotion to Red Bull Racing next season. Helmut Marko of Red Bull stated as much earlier today when asked by Autosport if the move is going to happen:
I think so, yes. He’s a special one and he is very developed for his age. He can be very aggressive in the car but he’s also technical and well trained. Helmut Marko.
STR co-owner and former grand prix winner Gerhard Berger wasn’t so blunt, erring to the vague, non-committal type of answer, but giving clear indication that the company is at least considering it.
For the next three years he has a contract with Red Bull, not Red Bull Racing. But I don’t know where he’ll be next year. Gerhard Berger.
I’ll post more about the new STR after the times have been set at the end of the day, but for now, here are a few pictures.
Update: And now it’s all over. Sebastien Bourdais crashed the new STR3 heavily at Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon. The French driver is fine and was able to walk away from the accident, which saw Seb leave the track at T9 and clout the barrier. The car however, didn’t do so well in the incident and it is now unlikely the team will be able to continue the test tomorrow with Vettel. Team boss Franz Tost ruled out mechanical failure and just said:
He simply went too fast.
Looking at initial images of the aftermath, it would appear that while the impacted side is pretty much destroyed, the right side is unscathed, suggesting the problems that dogged the RB4 in Australia and Malaysia have not been carried over to the STR3.