MARCH 18, 2016
Toro Rosso drivers eye Kvyat's Red Bull seat
The 2016 Toro Rosso could be the perfect tool for its drivers to make their case for a move to the premier team Red Bull Racing for 2017.
Jan Lammers, a former F1 driver from the Netherlands, thinks the car might be so good that even engine supplier Ferrari could be feeling nervous.
"They will have to be careful," he told De Telegraaf newspaper, "because if Toro Rosso is a threat to the factory team, Ferrari could decide to reduce power through the software."
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari's lead works driver, admits that Toro Rosso is looking particularly strong for 2016.
"I think we are closer (to Mercedes) than last year, especially in the race," the German said in Melbourne. "Then I think Toro Rosso has made a massive step."
If true, both Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen are desperate to prove to their paymasters that they should be promoted to the main Red Bull team.
"My goal is to do well at my team and get to Red Bull for 2017," Spaniard Sainz, who is getting over the flu in Melbourne, told Spain's El Mundo newspaper.
And teammate Verstappen has even been linked with a switch to a non-Red Bull camp for 2017, like Ferrari.
"I like to work with Red Bull and see no reason to change," the Dutchman insists. "They gave me the opportunity to make my debut in formula one and I should be loyal."
It appears that the seat they are eyeing at Red Bull is Daniil Kvyat's, with Dr Helmut Marko telling Auto Bild that Daniel Ricciardo has "a bulletproof contract with us for 2017".
Felipe Massa thinks it will be a close fight between Verstappen and Sainz.
"They have a nice car, at least it looks that way, so it may be a good season for Sainz," he said. "He is a very good driver.
"People talked more about Verstappen last year, but I do not think any less of Sainz."