AlphaTauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso, are Red Bull’s sister team but have evolved to be far more than just a place for their owner’s drivers to develop.
Red Bull bought F1 team Minardi ahead of the 2006 season and made them their junior team, renaming them Toro Rosso, Red Bull in Italian.
Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed were their drivers for their debut campaign but were rarely able to fight for points, with the former’s one in the USA being the only one they scored all year.
Things weren’t much better the following season, which they began with the same pairing but changed after 10 races with Red Bull development driver Sebastian Vettel replacing Speed after the American reportedly physically clashed with team principal Franz Tost after the European Grand Prix.
The German made his mark in the penultimate race of the year in China, finishing in P4 to give the team their best ever result with Liuzzi close behind in P6. That result alone gave them P7 in the final standings.
The upwards trajectory continued in 2008. In the first race, Vettel’s new team-mate, Sebastian Bourdais, scored two points on his F1 debut, taking P7. He was only able to add to that tally once more after that, but Vettel emerged as one of the stars of the season.
The young driver scored points in nine of the last 13 races with the undoubted highlight being a stunning shock pole position and victory on a wet weekend in Monza. Thanks largely to his performances, his team gained one place in the Constructors’ Championship again, taking P6 ahead of their senior Red Bull team.
So impressive was he that Red Bull promoted him to their team in 2009, putting Sebastien Buemi in the seat he left behind.
The Swiss driver made an encouraging start, scoring points in his first race, but ultimately couldn’t fill the huge void Vettel left. He ended the year with just six points to his name which, along with the two Bourdais scored before being replaced by Jaime Alguersuari after nine rounds, resigned the team to finishing bottom of the standings.
Buemi and Alguersuari remained for the start of the new decade, but even with a new system that saw the points-scoring positions expand from the top eight to the top 10, they didn’t enjoy that much more success than they did the previous year.
The two scored 13 points between them, never finishing higher than P8. On the bright side, the team didn’t remain at the bottom of the field as three new teams joined and all failed to pick up a single point.
2011 was a real step forward, being their best season ever. Alguersuari scored 26 points and Buemi 15, which was enough for them to finish ahead of Williams as well as the three backmarkers, and just three points behind Sauber.
Despite that though, they entered 2012 with an all-new lineup, giving their seats to rookies Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. The two impressed, but in poor machinery, could do little to stop their employers from dropping back down a place in the championship.
They got a car more worthy of their talents the next year. In it, Ricciardo finished in P7 twice and Vergne claimed Toro Rosso’s first top-six finish since 2008. As a result, they moved back up to P8 in the year-end order.
Ricciardo had impressed the higher-ups that year and so moved up to Red Bull in 2014, with Daniil Kvyat taking his place alongside Vergne.
The Russian had a solid first season, but the Frenchman very much carried the team, scoring 22 of their 30 points as they gained another place in the standings.
Such is the brutality of the Red Bull programme though that he was dropped the following year, with Kvyat being chosen to replace Vettel in the senior team who decided to put two rookies, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, at Toro Rosso.
It proved to be a good call as both were immensely impressive with Verstappen, the youngest ever F1 driver at the age of 17, quickly being seen as a future star of the sport.
He finished inside the top four twice and scored 49 points in total with Sainz adding a further 18 to give the team their highest-ever points tally.
Five rounds into the next season, the Dutchman had been promoted by Red Bull, winning his first race, with Kvyat dropping back down. Mentally hurt, the Russian struggled that year, but the same can’t be said for Sainz who massively improved on his 2015 tally.
The two drivers maintained their respective forms in 2017, leading to both leaving before the end of the campaign in which the team finished seventh of the 10 teams for the fourth consecutive year. Kvyat was dropped for young driver Pierre Gasly and Sainz, tired of driving for a junior team, left for Renault with Brendan Hartley replacing him.
In what was a disappointing 2018 for the team, with reliability often an issue, Gasly impressed but Hartley didn’t, with the Frenchman scoring 29 points to the New Zealander’s four.
That saw him move to Red Bull and Hartley leave the grid at the end of the year. In their places were Alex Albon and the returning Kvyat, who managed to get back to his best in 2019, being the first Toro Rosso driver to stand on the podium since Vettel in 2008.
Despite that, it was Albon who Red Bull swapped Gasly with after 12 races in which the Frenchman struggled. It didn’t take him long to recapture his old form though as he finished P2 in the penultimate race of the year in Brazil. Thanks to that, the team surpassed their previous record points tally, ending the season with 87.
Toro Rosso became AlphaTauri in a rebrand ahead of the 2020 campaign, but that was the only major change as both Gasly and Kvyat were retained.
The Russian enjoyed another good year but Gasly was on another level altogether, taking the team’s second ever victory with a stunning drive where Vettel gave them their first, Monza. That was one of four top-six finishes he got under his belt that played a big part in them scoring over 100 points for the first time.
He remained the star man in 2021, where he drove alongside Yuki Tsunoda. He claimed another podium in Azerbaijan and finished inside the top six in nine races. With Tsunoda also picking up a few strong results, the team improved on their previous record tally again, scoring 142 points.
More so than ever before, they were making headlines for reasons other than being the place for Red Bull’s young drivers to learn the ropes, and with Gasly staying for 2022, that will surely continue to be the case.
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