The team picture
- Constructors standing: P6, 85 points
After pretty much sacrificing their entire 2018 season as guinea pigs for Honda's engine development programme in preparation for Red Bull's own transfer to the Japanese manufacturer, Toro Rosso finally got some significant pay-back this season for all their recent sacrifices.
Kvyat's third place in Germany might have been the result of wild and wet conditions at Hockenheim, but it was no less a remarkable achievement for all that. And for Gasly to subsequently return to the fold and go one better in Brazil was both the icing and cherry on top.
As a result, Toro Rosso was right in the championship mix, finishing in sixth place in the constructors standings with a total of 85 points, compared to a poor ninth in 2018 with a mere 33 points. Definite progress, then, and much reason to celebrate at the office Christmas party in Faenza.
- Pierre Gasly: P7, 95 points (32 with team)
- Alexander Albon: P8, 92 points (16 with team)
- Daniil Kvyat: P13, 37 points
The change in the driver line-up over the summer break makes this is a tricky head-to-head to analyse. After his last race with the team before he was promoted to Red Bull, Alexander Albon had picked up 16 points compared to Daniil Kvyat's 27 - about what you would expect given Albon's rookie status and the team's midfield status. It also includes the Russian's magnificent podium finish in Germany.
In the remaining nine races of the season, Kvyat picked up just ten more points - while Gasly came in and scored more than three times that amount over the same period - including his own podium in the penultimate race in Brazil - despite the STR14 being essentially a brand new car to him. In total, Kvyat delivered 44% of Toro Rosso's total points haul in 2019, Gasly 37.5% (from nine races) and Albon 19.5% (from 12 races.)
Overall, Kvyat finished ahead of Albon 7-5 in race trim while they were team mates (it was a dead heat in terms of qualifying), but lost out 4-5 against Gasly (where he was thrashed 2-7 in terms of qualifying.) On these figures it's hard to see why Red Bull gave Albon the mid-season nod over Kvyat, while it's incontrovertible that the best performing of the three drivers in the same hardware was Gasly - which all feels rather upside down.
Looking to the future
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost had cause to be miffed when his latest rising star Alexander Albon was snatched away mid-season by the senior Red Bull squad, but it probably did the squad a big favour. With the return of Pierre Gasly something seems to have clicked on both sides, and it's not hard to imagine the Frenchman on the podium again in 2020 at least once, if not multiple times.
Honda already exceeded expectations in 2019, working hard to supply ever-better engines to its two customer teams. If that continues in 2020 then the rechristened Alpha Tauri team could well ride its sister squad's coattails to even greater successes, and may even be in contention to vie for 'best of the rest' status by topping the midfield.