F1 midfielder Scuderia Toro Rosso could finally ditch its visual links to Red Bull next season, if rumours linking the team to a series of sponsorship deals prove to be true.
According to Spain's AS
newspaper, national oil company CEPSA is close to inking a deal which, along with others with existing backer Falcon Private Bank and Canada's Nova Chemicals, could result in a complete overhaul of the team's livery. Toro Rosso, which claimed an unlikely victory - its only success since initially being born as Minardi - with Sebastian Vettel at Monza almost three years ago, has always carried a stylised version of Red Bull's now famous logo as its livery, but could find itself reclothed in CEPSA's red-and-white colours from 2012.
claims that a deal is imminent thanks to Toro Rosso's recently-concluded deal with Falcon Private [see story here
], common owner Aabar has denied that its talks with Red Bull are either that advanced or even about F1, and it remains to be seen whether CEPSA logos appear on the two STR6s at Monza this weekend.
Title sponsorship from CEPSA in 2012, however, could be good news for current Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari who, despite improved form through the middle of the season, remains under threat from Red Bull protégé Daniel Ricciardo.
The Spaniard, along with team-mate Sebastien Buemi, will have to wait until the end of the season to see what Red Bull decides to do with its various prospects but, with Mark Webber inking another one-year extension to partner Vettel in the 'senior' team, there are now four drivers - if former British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne is added to the mix - competing for the two seats at STR.
After a slow start to the year, during which he was thought to be on the verge of being replaced by Ricciardo, Alguersuari has raised his game enough to match Buemi in the standings, and hopes that a career-best qualifying performance in Belgium - despite his race ending at the first corner - will end speculation about his future.
"I hope now that all the people stop asking me about this nonsense," the 21-year old told Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo
Respected F1 scribe Joe Saward, however, suggests that the links to the Middle East may go further than Aabar's involvement, with parent company International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) taking over the team and rebranding it as Team UAE. CEPSA would then become just one of a series of prominent sponsors, which would rotate according to suitability. The oil company would be the major brand on display in Europe as it attempts to expand its operations across the continent.
Saward also reports that a new base for STR is under under construction in the Middle East, and suggests that it may be located close to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix circuit at Yas Island.