Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Toro Rosso Unveil Explosive New Line-Up For 2012

Toro Rosso shocked the paddock today by revealing an all new driver line-up for 2012, comprising Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Frenchman Jean Eric Vergne.

Vergne was in action at the Young Drivers' Test for Red Bull last month.
Vergne drove for Red Bull at the Young Drivers' Test this year, as did Ricciardo last year. The news leaves 2011 drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi without a race seat for 2012. It will be a particular kick in the teeth for the ever-popular Alguersuari, who managed to qualify an amazing sixth on the grid at Spa, only to be wiped out at the first corner through no fault of his own.

Ricciardo, who started eleven races for HRT this year, said: “To be honest, I am still jumping up and down with excitement at the news. In the second half of 2011 I learned a lot from the people I worked with, and I want to thank them for the opportunity they gave me. 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 can’t wait to get to work once testing begins.” The Australian drove in the Young Drivers' Test at Abu Dhabi last season for Red Bull, and drove in first practice sessions for Toro Rosso at the start of this season before being promoted to the race seat at Hispania.

Jean Eric Vergne, who will be the third Frenchman on the grid in 2012, joining Romain Grosjean and Charles Pic, has started no Grands Prix, but set the pace on all four days of this years Young Drivers' Test, much like his new teammate did last year.

The line-up is a complete unknown for Toro Rosso, who have not changed both of their drivers at once since 2006, yet team principal Franz Tost maintains it is not a gamble for the Italian squad. He reminded the press of Toro Rosso's main goal: "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 1 for the youngsters in the Red Bull Junior Driver programme. It is therefore part of the team’s culture to change its driver line-up from time to time in order to achieve this goal." He wished well to both Buemi and Alguersuari, both of whom have been with the team as drivers since 2009. With spaces on the grid closing up fast, it will be a race against the clock to see who will end up where. With Force India set to announce their 2012 line-up soon, as well as Williams, race seats in the midfield look like an increasingly valuable entity come 2012.