Toro Rosso announce Ricciardo & Vergne for 2012 14 Dec 2011
Toro Rosso have revealed a completely new driver line-up for next season, with Australias Daniel Ricciardo and Frances Jean-Eric Vergne replacing 2011 drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.
Both Ricciardo and Vergne have come through the Red Bull Junior Driver programme and the decision to promote them was taken by Toro Rosso in conjunction with Red Bull.
Twenty-two year-old Ricciardo, from Perth, drove for Toro Rosso during Fridays first free practice sessions at Grands Prix in the early part of 2011, before competing full time for HRT in the second half of the year.
This is a really big deal for me and something I have wanted ever since I was driving for Toro Rosso on Friday mornings at the races in the first part of last season, he said. To be honest, I am still jumping up and down with excitement at the news.
Ricciardo previously won the Formula Renault 2.0 Championship in 2008 and the following year he won the British Formula Three series. In 2010, he finished runner-up in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, combining his racing with reserve driver duties for both Red Bull F1 teams.
In the second half of 2011 I learned a lot from the people I worked with, racing in 11 Grands Prix and I want to thank them for the opportunity they gave me, he added. I have to say that joining Scuderia Toro Rosso was always my real goal, so a big thank you to Red Bull for giving me this fantastic opportunity and now I cant wait to get to work once testing begins.
Vergne too has already worked with Toro Rosso, most recently driving in Free Practice One at three of the last four Grands Prix of the 2011 season. The 21 year-old followed in his new team mates footsteps, winning the 2010 British Formula Three Championship and coming second in this years Formula Renault 3.5 series.
First of all, I must thank Red Bull for all their support so far and for believing I am ready to take on the ultimate challenge of racing in Formula One, said Vergne. Christmas has come early for me this year! Having driven for them a few times this year and also testing for Red Bull Racing in Abu Dhabi, I definitely feel ready to make the move, even if I know there is a big difference between testing and actually racing. I enjoyed working with the guys at Toro Rosso this year and I cant wait to be part of the team for real. Sitting on the grid in Melbourne next March cannot come soon enough.
Commenting on his 2012 signings, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said: I am pleased that we have been able to reach an early decision on our drivers for next year, because it means we can all give our full attention to 2012, without any distractions. Over the past year, both Daniel and Jean-Eric have proved their worth and I expect them to make a significant contribution to the teams performance next year.
Daniel has the benefit of having actually raced in Grands Prix for much of this year, while Jean-Eric proved he could adapt quickly to the demands of driving a Formula One car. As they have both worked with the team and its engineers very recently, this should allow us to get up to speed right from the start of winter testing in a couple of months time.
Tost also paid tribute to his departing 2011 drivers, both of whom now face an uncertain Formula One future. Swiss Buemi had been at Toro Rosso since making his F1 debut with the team in 2009, while Spaniard Alguersuari joined midway through the same season, also as a rookie.
I must also thank Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari for all their hard work over the past three seasons, said Tost. They have delivered some excellent performances which have helped the team move forward and develop. We wish them well for the future.
"However, one has to remember that when Scuderia Toro Rosso was established in 2005, it was done so with the intention of providing a first step into Formula One for the youngsters in the Red Bull Junior Driver programme. It is therefore part of the teams culture to change its driver line-up from time to time in order to achieve this goal.
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