Sport : F1

Toro Rosso

27th February 2014, 08:41am

Toro Rosso continue to be the final proving ground for Red Bull's stable of young drivers as the energy drinks company continue their search for the next Sebastian Vettel.

With Daniel Ricciardo becoming the first driver since the four-time World Champion to graduate to the senior team, his spot will be taken by Daniil Kvyat in 2014.

The exciting young Russian claimed the 2013 GP3 Championship and a number of impressive, dominant displays in the series persuaded the bosses to promote him to F1 without the traditional stepping stone of GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5.

Whether the 19-year-old is ready for F1 or not is another matter, and with Jean-Eric Vergne entering his third season with the team, Toro Rosso certainly have an experienced benchmark to measure their new potential star against.

Having been a long way behind Sauber and Force India in the 2013 standings, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and Team Principal Franz Tost will be keen for the team to be in the top ten more often - although it's unlikely that Red Bull's designated junior team will ever match their incredible feats of 2008, when a then unproven Vettel brilliantly won at a rain-drenched Monza and Toro Rosso outscored the senior Red Bull squad in the Constructors' Championship.

In truth, Mateschitz surely never originally envisaged Toro Rosso being anything other than a proving ground for the company's young driving talents when he bought the perennial back-of-the-grid Minardi team for the 2006 season.

Initially, the Faenza squad benefited from being able to run a modified version of the senior Red Bull team's car but from 2010 that rule loophole was closed and Toro Rosso had to become a constructor in their own right - and therefore design their own cars.

With the build-up of improved technical capabilities and personnel unsurprisingly taking time to bear fruit, it wasn't until 2011 that Toro Rosso moved forward again and eighth place in the standings, just behind Sauber but ahead of Williams, was a commendable achievement.

Technical Director Giorgio Ascanelli left the team mid-way through 2012 to be replaced by former Sauber man James Key, with points finishes in six of the final nine rounds saw them finishing ninth overall that year.

A sixth-place finish in Canada for Vergne last season was the team's best result since Vettel's 2008 win, and they will be hoping to repeat the feat on a more regular basis next season as they embark on a new era with Renault power for the first time.

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