Roberto Merhi, Felipe Nasr, Car­los Sainz, Will Stevens, Max Ver­stap­pen

It’s a vintage year for rook­ies. And Toro Rosso, the team at which two of the classi­est acts in town are show­ing their ge­nius, are at the fore­front. Lewis may be rac­ing Nico; Fer­rari may for­ever live in the hope of beat­ing Mercedes, but the brio lies this year at STR. They’re Ital­ian, they used to be Mi­nardi, and so they have lots of air. They’re con­cisely run by Franz Tost, they don’t have to strug­gle for money the way Force In­dia or Lo­tus some­times strug­gle, and they’ve got Max Ver­stap­pen and Car­los Sainz. What’s not to like?

Ver­stap­pen and Sainz are at op­po­site ends of the style spec­trum. Max is all straight lines and sup­ple in­puts – very Lewis Hamil­ton. Car­los is all right foot and over­steer – very Juan Pablo Montoya. Max also has a Michael Schu­macher-like abil­ity to dis­til the com­pli­cated into the es­sen­tial – to fo­cus on only the things that mat­ter. In his rst race, in Mel­bourne, he started slowly and built up his speed ex­po­nen­tially, stay­ing out of the way of the quicker cars, fo­cus­ing on the va­garies of the Re­nault power curve. The car got away from him – but only be­cause he over­com­pen­sated for a sud­den drop in revs. Call it a rookie mis­take.

He im­proved, and is im­prov­ing, with ev­ery ad­di­tional dose of ex­pe­ri­ence. There’s no doubt that Ro­main Gros­jean braked early at Monaco, but Max stayed quiet, shrugged it off and was back in busi­ness in Canada. Some­thing weird hap­pened to the car at Sil­ver­stone but Max again made noth­ing of it, blam­ing

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