Toro Rosso: Rookies ready for Melbourne race bow
Toro Rosso say there is no doubt that rookies Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Junior are ready to make their Formula One racing debuts in the season-opener in Australia.
At 17 and 20 years-old respectively, the duo will be the youngest driver pairing in F1 history when they compete in Melbourne - but team principal Franz Tost believes their performances over pre-season testing prove they can handle the occasion.
"We arrived in Jerez exactly a month ago with two rookies and we leave Barcelona with two young drivers who are ready to make their Formula One debut," Tost said.
"They have definitely grown as drivers in a very short time, showing a good learning curve as well as growing in confidence as the days have gone by. Pre-season testing has been a crucial part of the year for us to prepare the car, drivers and team for the season ahead.
"We've completed a total of 5,536 km - which is already more than the total we covered last year, including the in-season tests - showing good reliability and performance."
Technical director James Key said the team had orchestrated their pre-season programme around giving both drivers maximum seat time.
"With two new drivers, we put them through a massive programme, aimed at giving them as much track time as possible, going through all the procedures that need to be well rehearsed for Melbourne," he explained.
"They have both done a competent job and we are encouraged by their attitude and approach. Now it's time to put everything together and go racing.
"We began with our car in