Toro Rosso unveils STR7 at season-opening F1 test in Spain

With the first test session of the season now under way in Jerez, Spain, the remaining teams – that is, at least, the ones that have their cars ready – are presenting their new designs for the 2012 Formula One World Championship. The latest among them: Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Long known as the Red Bull B-squad, STR positions itself as something of a training squad for new drivers moving into F1 as an extension of the company's young driver training program. And for that reason it axed both of its drivers (Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi) in favor of fresh talents Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Like most (make that all so far except McLaren), the new STR7 which they'll be driving this year is distinguished from last year's field by a rather unsightly, platypus-style stepped nose and tighter sidepods and hindquarters. Ferrari once again provides its Type 056 V8 engine, driving through a seven-speed gearbox and assisted by a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and Drag Reduction System in the rear wing.

With its new drivers and car, Toro Rosso hopes to finish sixth or seventh in the championship this year; an ambitious goal considering that the last time it finished that well was in 2008 when Sebastian Vettel won the Italian Grand Prix against all odds – a victory that still stands as the only podium finish out of the 108 races the team has contested in its six years of racing. We'll be watching to see how they fare.

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