Toro Rosso names newbie drivers
TORO ROSSO'S NEW BOYS: Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne (left) and Australian Daniel Ricciardo will be the team's drivers for 2012.
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
LONDON, England - Toro Rosso has named Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne as an all-new 2012 driver pairing for the 2012 F1 season.
Dropped are the youngsters who took the team to eighth in the 2011 championship: Swiss Sebastien Buemi and Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari have few options for new berths. Alguersuari and Buemi were 14th and 15th respectively this season, with 26 and 15 points.
Vergne, 21, has tested for Red Bull and took part in Friday practice for Toro Rosso three times during 2011. He will be France's third driver on the grid - the others are Lotus's Romain Grosjean and Marussia's Charles Pic. There were no French drivers in 2011.
FIRST SINCE 2006
Ricciardo, 22 and a Red Bull test and reserve driver, raced for HRT in 2011. He had been linked to Caterham as a possible replacement for Jarno Trulli despite the Italian having a contract.
So, Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso will have a completely new set of wheelmen for the first time since the team's debut in 2006 and admitted the decision was taken in conjunction with Red Bull. Team boss Franz Tost said: "One has to remember that when Toro Rosso was established in 2005 it was with the intention of providing a first step into F1 for the youngsters in the Red Bull junior driver programme.
"It is part of the team's culture to change its drivers from time to time to achieve this."
11 RACES, 0 POINTS
Perth native Ricciardo took part in Friday practice at GP weekends for Toro Rosso before moving to a race seat at HR in the second half of 2011. He drove in 11 races but didn't score a point.
"This is a really big deal for me," he said. "Joining Toro Rosso was always my real goal."
Toro Rosso's announcement left one seat at Williams and one at HRT still to be filled. Force India has yet to name its drivers but the team is expected to go with Britain's Paul di Resta and Germany's Nico Hulkenberg.
Germany's Adrian Sutil, Russian Vitaly Petrov and Brazilians Rubens Barrichello and Bruno Senna are among those still looking for a seat.