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Toro Rosso launch STR4 - Red Bull's sister team unveil their 2009 F1 contender

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

With the Brawn GP car unveiled with no specific launch, Toro Rosso became the last team to release their 2009 car into the wild. Having dominated some of the earlier winter tests using a previous car spec to everyone else, it was time for them to show us what the STR4 could do.

Released at the start of this week's Barcelona test, the launch saw drivers Sébastien Buemi and Sébastien Bourdais take the covers off the car, and pose for photos. The STR4 then hit the track for some laps.

Technical Director Giorgio Ascanelli was adamant that the car is not simply a rebadged RB5, as the teams use different engines. The Red Bull is designed to house a Renault, and the Toro Rosso has been built around a Ferrari engine, so he claims they are very different. Unfortunately, their paint jobs really are quite similar, dark blue with the Red Bull logo, and so spotting the difference out on track might be hard.

The team confirmed they won't be running KERS for the first two races of the season, at least, which coincides with what a lot of the other teams are saying. They also admitted they want to repeat the success of 2008, although clearly a win might be asking a little too much. Buemi is confident that he can do well, but wants to shake off any comparisons to Vettel before they even start. Bourdais, meanwhile, is grateful for the opportunity of another chance in Formula 1, but will be kept busy taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hour race as well.

The good news is that despite the economic times, and many teams cutting back, Toro Rosso will be increasing their staff slightly in the coming months. They want to build up their design department, presumably to make sure that any doubts about the "rebadged RB5" problem really do go away.

Toro Rosso are a team with a lot of question marks hanging around them at the moment. They are for sale, as Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz doesn't want two teams. They are coming off the back of a very strong year, but that was probably due to having a very strong driver. They have strong links with Red Bull but also want to start to distance themselves from their sister team. It will be a tough year for them, I think, but a fascinating one to watch.