Formula 1 team Toro Rosso, the younger sibling of Constructor’s World Champions Red Bull, have this week announced that they are to replace both their 2011 drivers with a fresh-faced lineup consisting of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.
While both men are young and relatively inexperienced, both have tested for Red Bull this season. Daniel Ricciardo has also driven in Formula 1 races for HRT this season, meaning, at 22 years old, he has probably as much experience as the team could have hoped for one so young.
Jean-Eric Vergne has tested for Red Bull and practiced for Toro Rosso three times in 2011, which led to many in the paddock expecting at least one of the current drivers Alguersuari and Buemi to be ousted by these impressive youngsters.
Toro Rosso principle, Franz Tost, explained that this decision was in keeping with the team ethos:
“I must also thank Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari for all their hard work over the past three seasons. 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 1 for the youngsters in the Red Bull Junior Team 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.”
The early decision – by Formula 1 terms – will allow both new drivers time to find their feet in the new role in the global spotlight, while it will also allow Alguersuari and Buemi – who collected 26 and 15 points from 2011 respectively – some opportunity to find another seat for 2012.
It remains to be seen if the former Toro Rosso men can use the springboard of what now appears to be a genuine development team to find another Forumla 1 drive.
For team Red Bull Racing as a whole, the hunt for a successor to Mark Webber, and a lasting understudy to the ever-impressive Sebastian Vettel, continues. Ricciardo and Vergne are the next two hot-shot young drivers to attempt to prove their worth.