Since its 2006 inception, the Red Bull junior team has never finished higher than 11th at the Middle East venue. Toro Rosso showed in Melbourne that it has the pace to challenge at the front, though miscommunication around the pit stop sequence led to a “very disappointing” season opener.
Toro Rosso still managed to place its two STR11s in the top 10 in Australia, with Verstappen chasing a similar result in round two of this year’s Formula One championship.
“Hopefully this year we will score some points there, because Toro Rosso has never scored any in Bahrain! he said. “So this is definitely a good target that I will be looking to achieve.”
Both Toro Rosso drivers remember how they struggled in Sakhir 12 months ago when their underpowered Renault engine left them as sitting ducks on a layout that features several long straights. Having switched to a Ferrari supply over the winter, Verstappen and Sainz are more confident ahead of their second visit to Bahrain.
“The circuit has a very long straight – too long last year! – and they overtook me quite a few times there in 2015…,” recalled the Dutchman. “It's not a nice feeling and inside your head you're talking to yourself and saying “c'mon, c'mon!”; it's frustrating, but there's not much more you can do when another car is quicker than you.”
His Spanish team-mate added: “Last year we struggled a bit with top speed... I remember [the main] straight being a bit too long for us…Maybe no longer that much this year!”
Toro Rosso claimed P11 twice at the Bahrain Grand Prix, first in 2006 courtesy of Vitantonio Liuzzi, then in 2014 with Daniil Kvyat.