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Reaction to Toro Rosso driver clearout
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Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Dec 2011   |  8:33 pm GMT  |  201 comments

It’s not often that a piece of news in F1 genuinely causes shock, but the sacking of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari seems to have done so, especially to the drivers themselves.

After a simple statement yesterday thanking them for their efforts and wishing them well in future, team boss Franz Tost has acknowledged that the decision looks “harsh” and found it necessary to go further today and explain in more detail why the team let the two drivers go,

“Sébastien has been with us for three seasons and Jaime for two and a half. Both of them worked hard for the team, doing their very best and achieving some good results,” he said. “However, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s ethos has always been that of the ‘rookie training school’ and, with over two seasons under your belt, you are no longer a rookie,” he said.

“In an ideal world, drivers would move from Scuderia Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing, but there are no vacancies with our sister team right now. It might be seen as a harsh decision, but Formula 1 is a tough environment and Toro Rosso has always been very clear about the principles behind its driver choice.”

Alguersuari said that he was surprised because he thought he’d had a conversation with Tost and with Dr Helmut Marko, who wields power over the young drivers in the Red Bull stable and they had said he was in their plans. But a decision was taken on Tuesday to sweep out the driver and to give Dan Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne their heads,

“Today’s news seems to be a major misunderstanding in the best moment of my sporting life,” said 21 year old Alguersuari.

“I will not judge the decision because since 15 years old Red Bull gave me everything. Second, I am not a victim because for seven years I have enjoyed the privilege because of them. And third, there is no drama, because I have many plans for the present and the future.

“The surprise lasted for a couple of hours but I have talked to my family and realised that life is full of opportunities and challenges.”

Alguersuari Sr is a powerful figure in Spanish motorsport and will be working hard behind the scenes to secure his son a seat, possibly at the Spanish owned HRT team. It would seem a very logical move unless HRT has a pay driver in mind or another driver with key strategic reasons behind his hiring.


Buemi meanwhile said he was in the simulator at Red Bull when he took the fateful call telling him he no longer had a race seat,

“I fell from the sky!” he said of his shock at the news. “A few days earlier, I had been discussing things for the next season. I was in the simulator yesterday morning at Red Bull Racing in Milton Keynes, where Franz and Helmut called me…

“Obviously I’m disappointed, but it is their decision and I respect it. I have not forgotten that without them I would never have come this far, they helped me tremendously for a long time, almost since my debut in Formula BMW, then F3, GP2 and F1.”

What can we learn from this episode? Well clearly Marko and Tost are comfortable with making ruthless decisions. F1 is a very tough place to work, whatever job you do and you have to be strong to survive. There is something pretty brutal about playing with young people’s lives, but on the flipside of that the company has created the opportunities in the first place, as the drivers are quick to acknowledge. It is therefore, quite literally, “Sink or Swim.”

There is a reason behind what appears a sudden change of heart, but it takes on a different complexion if the management had led the drivers to believe that they had a chance for 2012, then cut them loose.

To some in F1 the decision was obvious – Alguersuari and Buemi had had their chance and failed to impress.

However to one or two engineers from midfield rival teams I’ve spoken to there is surprise that STR didn’t keep one of the drivers and there is a feeling they’ve made a backwards step. It takes time for rookies to find their feet in F1 especially in midfield teams with limited resources and this could help their rivals.

That said, both Ricciardo and Vergne showed in the Young Guns tests of 2010 and 2011 in the Red Bull car that they are very fast.

Vergne has been pushed very hard by Red Bull recently. There is likely to be a commercial dimension to this as far as France is concerned as the brand is playing catch up having been banned their for 12 years before the Austrian company successfully overturned the ban in the European Court in 2008.

But Alguersuari stands as a cautionary tale, for Vergne in particular, that you can bring a young driver into F1 too quickly and burn him out before he really gets going. Both Vergne and Ricciardo will look at what’s happened to this year’s drivers and be aware it could happen to them.F1 is a tough environment, as Tost says, but young drivers need to be managed to help them make the grade when they get their chance.

Romain Grosjean was on the scrap heap after coming in half-cocked with Renault in 2009, but has regrouped and returned with Lotus Renault.

Now Alguersuari and Buemi need a lifeline too.

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201 Comments
  1. T van R says:

    I think Red Bull still hold Alguersuari option for Red Bull driving. Red Bull just wants to pick the best replacement for Webber. So now it depends on Ricciardo & Vergne performance in 2012. So at the end Red Bull will choose one of them (Alguersuari or Ricciardo or Vergne) to replace Webber.

    1. VanDhloms says:

      There’s an old saying which says “money talks”. For me it’s simple, Toro Rosso was never created to contend for championship at any stage. Rather it’s more of a driver test lab for Red Bull, an expensive lab I must say. There’s no team that can win a championship by changing drivers every 2 years, rookie drivers for that matter. So in that perspective Tost and Marko are doing exactly what they intended with the team and I suppose all Toro Rosso drivers know that they’re not there to win championships, instead to prove themselves as worthy of a seat in the grid. So Alguersuari and Buemi should be proud with the fact that there were not drop for lack of performance and they stand a good chance to be taken by other teams in 2013 onwards.

      1. T van R says:

        There is no doubt that Red Bull doesn’t want to have a rival sister team, Red Bull puts it’s money on Toro Rosso to test young drivers. Toro Rosso is rookie drivers academy for Red Bull & in another aspect Red Bull helps Toro Rosse to have better standing in constructors championship for gaining more money. Red Bull actually Compensates lack of tests by Toro Rosso.

  2. MT says:

    As a Canadian I’m most astounded at the fact they’ve fired two serviceable young drivers with now significant experience in favour of two guys who were beaten by Robert Wickens for the WSR 3.5 title. This despite all of Vergne’s Red Bull support.

    No justice, I say.

    Here’s hoping Robert gets a ride and doesn’t end up on the scrapheap before even having a chance.

    1. tim says:

      Hear hear! A fellow Canadian agrees.

      Also, in reading the Q&A on Autosport, Ricciardo explains that he was with his parents when he got the call, and “came out of my room” to tell them. Does this guy still live with him mom and dad? When I talked to Wickens this year, he told me he’s lived in Europe, across an ocean from home, for a long time. You can see he’s more mature than these two.

      1. Dave Aston says:

        Obviously just home for Christmas.

      2. chris says:

        I don’t see what your point is here. Are you saying to be a man you should never see your parents? James wrote an article about Hamilton a few weeks ago and how he needs to reestablish his personal life balance and compared his setup to buttons who regularly has his dad with him. By the logic you stated that means button is inmature which is fairly laughable. Everyone is different and what works for one doesn’t for another. As the article concluded it doesn’t matter how it works just that it does

      3. tim says:

        Thanks for your thoughts, but I think you missed my point. North American drivers trying to break into F1 have to live away from their families from a very young age. As anyone who has moved away from home knows, this forces you to mature. My argument is that Wickens has a maturity that neither of these two do, and, as MT wrote, he also beat them.

        I’m a man. I see my parents all the time. Do I have a ROOM at their house? No. I have my own house. If I were an F1 driver, sure, my parents would be there. But I wouldn’t be bunking in their place. A North American like Wickens trying to break into F1 doesn’t have that option regardless.

      4. chris says:

        I still dont see your point Ricciardo have been competing in europe for about 5 years now in some form or another, and being as he is 22 that puts him leaving home at 17ish. Last time I checked Australia was also a lot further away from Europe then the US

      5. John says:

        Tim, i believe ricciardo was 17 when he was racing formula BMW’s in Europe. Do you have any idea how far Australia is from Europe? It & nz are the furthest you can get. Unless he travels home to oz after every race I think it’s safe to assume he probably has his own place in Europe. As Dave said hes most likely home for Xmas.

      6. Alex W says:

        I’m a man, I have my own family and house, and my room is still at my parents house…. Don’t see how that makes me less a man…

      7. Mike J says:

        C,mon Tim. He went home for xmas…lets not make a big point out of this..yes drivers from Australia have to go to europe to ‘been seen and try and get a drive’ and live there..it’s just as hard for us as Nth Americas due to the fact that europeans and UK drivers have a location advantage and local sponsors…he has been overseas driving overseas since about 14/15yo or so…..and he must have something that others don’t to be ‘seen’..(maybe fast and talent?)

      8. Mike J says:

        “You can see he’s more mature than these two.”

        Really, your comments are interesting. Have you sat down and spoken with all 3 of them to make your judgement??….or just seen small tv clips and read newspapers??

      9. tim says:

        Got me there. I’ve only spoken to Wickens in person. Very impressive. I was also roaming about the paddock in Montreal. Incredible experience.

      10. f1fan says:

        As a close friend of Daniel’s I can tell you for sure that he has his own place in Europe, and has for the last 5 years. He is merely visiting his family in Australia for Christmas. Get your facts straight mate.

      11. MikeJ says:

        @f1fan
        I think you are replying to the wrong guy.!! Read my other comments. I’m with you so best get your comments re-aimed..

      12. Ohm says:

        Maybe this will open up your little world Tim. It is common for people in my country to live with their parents from when they are born to when they die, even if they’re married and have kids. It’s only a ‘Western’ idea that one HAS to leave their parents to be ‘cool’ or ‘mature’ or ‘be a man’. Your opinion is typical of the ‘Western’ thinking that everyone else HAS to think like you otherwise they are ‘wrong’. It’s like when a British thinks a guy is weak because he doesn’t go drinking at the pub. Don’t forget there are a few hundred countries in the world mate and not everyone thinks or acts like a Canadian.

      13. LT says:

        Well said Ohm! In many cultures, including mine, kids live with thier parents at least until they are married.

    2. You can’t really include Ricciardo. He was driving for STR in FP1 then HRT from GB onwards. I don’t think his focus was on FR3.5.

      1. Maple56 says:

        His focus was not on FR3.5? I have heard it all now. I am a Canadian of Italian origin and I totally agree with my Canuck “brothers”. Wickens has the stuff and has shown it against his generation including Ricciardo and his team-mate at Carlin Vergne. I believe there is another reason he was overlooked. Dr. Marko (are there any Europeans with degrees that don’t insist on being referred to as “Dr.”…I have 2) didn’t think Wickens had the goods a few years ago. How would it look if the spotter of talent had to backtrack and hire the guy how beat the two anointed ones? Must saying.

      2. tim says:

        Hear hear!

      3. Jon says:

        For a man with two degrees you’d think you’d manage better than two typos in two sentences.

        And Helmut Marko has a doctorate in law for your reference…. Europeans don’t get called Dr when they “only” have an undergraduate degree.

      4. Alex W says:

        Having 2 degrees does not make a doctor….

      5. chris says:

        yep you need a PhD, Eng.D, D.Sc, or other docorate

      6. Maple56 says:

        Jon and Alex W….You are both correct about the typos, no excuse. But you both fail to see the focus of the comment that Wickens by his performance in 2011 in a championship that included both Ricciardo and Vergne was the better driver. Is he not the 2011 FR3.5 champion. Certain assumptions were made about my degrees. They are not “only” undergraduate degrees. I am an admirer of Dr. Helmut Marko the ex Formula 1 driver that overcame a near tragedy and became a role model for many. I will not make the assumption that you are not aware of his F1 history.

      7. Robert is good, no question. He is the 2011 FR3.5 champion.
        All I’m saying is that when you’ve got a young kid a la Ricciardo who has to juggle three jobs over the course of a season, the pressure is different.
        The kid had to adapt to STR at the start of the year, then HRT from Silverstone onwards. I don’t think you realise the momentous effort this requires. This also meant he missed 5 races out of 18.

  3. Craig Taylor says:

    It does seem rather harsh to completely wipe the slate clean regarding the drivers, a Team like Toro Rosso surely need stability to move further up the grid and both buemi and Alguersuari would have been a safe pair of hands to achieve this.

    1. SteveH says:

      But perhaps moving up the grid is not why the team exists. It is clear that they are a testing ground for young Red Bull drivers; that seems to be more important to Red Bull than moving the team up the grid. The team exists to feed potential winners to Red Bull, not to win races. If I recall, Toro Rosso did win a race; where is that driver now? Enough said.

      1. Craig Taylor says:

        True, I’d never really spent any time thinking of it like that, and at the end of the day Buemi and Alguersuari have had more than a fair share races to prove their worth.

  4. Rich C says:

    Its all another example of Marko’s award-winning PR savy.

    But it just confirms what I said yesterday:
    This is not a race team. It is a Drivers Education Class, a permanent Practice Squad.

    They should all have “L” (“learner?”) stickers on the back so the real F1 race teams can know to avoid them.

    1. Aussie Rod says:

      Liuzzi would have got a good look at Ricciardo’s Learner-sign on the back of his car this year then.

      To imply Ricciardo (in particular) and Vergne don’t deserve their chance in F1 is just wrong. From what I recall Perez and Di Resta did rather well as rookies this year.

      Few would disagree that it is harsh on Buemi and Alguersuari, but good on Torro Rosso for making the big decision and bringing in fresh talent to the sport. They are looking for the next superstar, not the next ‘pretty-good, solid, midfield, deserves their spot’ driver. SB and JA had enough of a chance to show what they could do, and clearly it was not enough.

      Maybe the criticism should be directed to the older drivers who refuse to give the game away… Rubens, Jarno?

      1. Jim says:

        You can’t really blame the “old guard” for hanging onto their seats. It’s the team bosses who make the decisions, and in these days of limited testing it seems that experience counts for more than it once did.

      2. lecho says:

        … or maybe it shouldn’t be in a way a team makes a decision which surely collides with its own interest in sport (as new drivers won’t probably be as successful in their first season as Alguersuari and Buemi were in 2011) only because a decision being made in some company?

        I mean, for me Toro Rosso is not a racing team anymore. How can you fire a 21-year old driver saying that he’s not a hot prospect? It is clear like never before that STR is just a junior team for Red Bull, working and racing not for their own success but for RBR future prospects and possible results. Their only goal is to bring possible young talents to F1 in order to give them away to Red Bull Racing.

        For me this brings the question: how this could even be legal in F1? I guess that every major team in the sport, like Ferrari or McLaren would love to have their own junior team which they own and dictate what to do.

        I remember everyone smacktalking about Ferrari having an advantage because of their test track and an opportunity to train drivers. Well, Red Bull has its own TEAM to do the same.

      3. Carl says:

        he other teams could have easily created a new team and applied for entry to F1 if they so wished. e.g Fiat could enter as a Ferrari junior team.

        The fact is the current teams just don’t have the appetite or budget for it. Remember the teams need to be totally independent in terms of chassis and car design etc..

  5. David says:

    Instead of Alguersuari getting a race seat with a team like HRT, why not make hime the reserve/Friday driver for RBR?

    In my opinion, none of the seats out there would be a good career progressing move. Also, Webber is now 36, so unfortunately his time at the top will be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

    If RBR do give him the chance as a reserve driver, they are the covered if something does happen during the season, plus when Webber does call it a day, they have someone there who can jump straight into the car.

    1. Couldn’t agree more! He’d be best sticking with RBR rather than go backwards to HRT

    2. MISTER says:

      As a reserve driver for RBR, or any of the top 4 teams, Alguersuari will not drive 1 mile in 2012.

      If he gets a seat at HRT, Caterham or Williams, at least he will drive and get a chance to shine.

    3. Heinzman says:

      When webber calls it a day they want to have DR or JEV in the car, hence the lineup change

  6. Alexis says:

    I don’t think there’s any excuse for sacking their drivers 3 weeks after the end of the season.

    Have they only just decided they’re a new driver testing team? Then why didn’t they sort out their racers in October?

    I’ve nothing against the purpose of the team (although it sends out a signal that performance is secondary), but to decide only now is downright cruel. At least give their drivers a chance to get new race seats.

    I think they’ve also done a great job of ruining a couple of careers. By all means bring in new drivers, but doing it like this just shows the paddock that they are of the opinion that Buemi and Alguersuari are poor drivers, which I don’t think is the case.

    1. Laura says:

      Yes this is exactly what I was thinking. It’s not the change but how they did it that’s shocking. They just seemed to have discarded their drivers like bits of old carpet, not mature, capable professionals that led their team to a decent points haul and that surely deserved the courtesy of a heads up before the end of the season, at the very least.

      1. Sebee says:

        Why?

        They knew they didn’t have a contract so should have been looking for options in their Plan B. Also, plenty of seats on the grid this year – not like grid is locked up and there are no places they could fight for.

        I have to say I’m fully behind Red Bull here. They own the team, they provide the environment, they pay the bills, they were quite obvious in not signing contracts. People get too personally involved. Driver decisions are not a democtratic process. If one of these new two TR drivers shows off next seasons everyone here will be eating their words.

    2. Aaron95 says:

      I don’t know why people are so surprised by this, Toro Rosso has always been a new driver testing team. Both drivers had about 18 months in the team, after which the management have decided they are not good enough to get a seat in the main Red Bull team. If the team thought either of them was demonstrating outstanding talent, I suspect they would have taken Webber’s seat for next season.

      It’s not the first time they have done this. Scott Speed, Sébastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel were treated in exactly the same way, the difference being that Vettel was promoted to the main Red Bull team.

    3. MISTER says:

      I wonder if moves like this will make fans like a team like RBR or dislike them.

      I dislike them already, so I’m in no position to answer this question.
      I also feel is very harsh how they disposed of these 2 drivers. It’s pretty late now to find other race seats, even if there are couple of spaces left. These teams which have yet to make a decission on their driver seats by now would have been in lots of negociations with potential drivers and don’t feel that it might be too late for these 2.

  7. quizeye says:

    I recall being slightly surprised when Buemi got the Toro Rosso seat in the first place, having been underwhelmed by his GP2 performance relative to some of his classmates, especially Senna and di Grassi. I wonder if this shows a historic weakness in the Red Bull academy system? Perhaps in the past they have picked a “winner” amongst their drivers too early, and felt they had to stick with him all the way to F1.

  8. It’s too bad that both drivers had to be replaced but it’ll be fun to watch two new highly-regarded drivers get thrown into the mix. I hope Buemi and Alguersuari get another seat somewhere though. They both showed signs of growth.

  9. Adil Desai says:

    Hi James.

    Can you please explain your comment: “There is likely to be a commercial dimension to this as far as France is concerned as the brand is playing catch up having been banned their for 12 years before the Austrian company successfully overturned the ban in the European Court in 2008.”

    What brand are you referring to here?

    Cheers.

      1. Seán Craddock says:

        But did Red Bull and Torro Rosso not race there before? How were they allowed?

        Or did they remove all the branding off the cars?

      2. MISTER says:

        James was talking about the drinks not the racing team…

      3. matski says:

        I think you missed the point slightly – the drink Red Bull was banned in France, not the race teams :)

      4. Andrew says:

        I believe they were allowed to advertise there, just not allowed to sell the drink there.

      5. Phil R says:

        They raced fully branded, just the product was not allowed to be sold there. It meant that the Red Bulletin in Magny Cours was very tongue in cheek as they had no customers to worry about, something like “Nearest nightlife, try Paris…”

      6. CJD says:

        it is the ban for the red bull drink!

        it also was banned in many contrys years ago

        greetings

      7. Seán Craddock says:

        I knew he didn’t mean the race teams, but I thought he meant the brand was banned. I understand now

      8. Adil says:

        Since I’m in the States, does that mean that Red Bull (drinks) were banned in France for 12 years? How bizarre.

      9. Ben Yeats says:

        Yes the drink was banned in France.

        If you can find back issues of the team newspaper ‘the Red Bullitin’ from past French GPs they usually contained a lot of not so subtle digs at this ban!

      10. Graham Reeds says:

        If I remember correctly the RB you get stateside is different to that in the UK due to the amount of Caffiene/Taurine levels it had.

      11. Born Racer says:

        Yes, based on some spurious reckoning that it was dangerous based on a guy dropping dead after necking a couple of cans during an exercise session or something like that.

      12. Tim Scarratt says:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bull#Legal_status

        “The French ban began in 1996 due to concerns about taurine, a substance prohibited in several other countries. This meant the drink could not be sold as-is in France. Instead, a different recipe that did not contain the ingredient was introduced. The ban was challenged by the European Commission and partially upheld by the European Court of Justice in 2004, before the French food safety agency relented in 2008 after being unable to prove definitively the existence of any health risk, taurine-related or not.”

      13. Mat Francis says:

        Yes, Red Bull the high caffeine stimulation drink was banned in France for that duration. So they have a lot of ground to make up.

      14. Chris Garwood says:

        I don’t think it was red bull specifically, but due to concerns about taurine, all taurine drinks, they introduced a taurine free version .. but the ban was over ruled by in 2008 (by the EC as the french couldn’t prove there was an issue ) and it’s now the same

      15. Douglas says:

        Too much caffine, or something. Some kid probably drank 20 of them in a day and croaked.

  10. it appeared as though only when there was talk that one or both may lose their seats that their performances lifted. if this is so then ‘time to leave the house’.

    both replacement drivers look,’ prima facie’ to have the ‘heat’ necessary to drive them to some good performances.

  11. “sacking” ? where they sacked james ? or did there contracts not get extended ?

    thats the life of a contractor ! :)

    Matt

    1. Femi Akinz says:

      From one contractor to another..that’s the way the cookie crumbles. It’s the life we chose

  12. Jason C says:

    It does seem harsh… especially as both drivers seemed to have made some progress, especially Alguersuari, who, if I remember, was in your top 5 drivers of the year James. So why the “failed to impress” line?

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      Although I did not rate Buemi that highly, he also experienced a number of car failures towards the end of the season. I doubt that Jaimie outperformed him that much once you look at a fair comparison.

    2. Tom in adelaide says:

      James was not the guy Jaime needed to impress….

  13. Dino says:

    I’ve felt shocked as well with these news. Firstly, because I thought that in a racing team you should never change both drivers at once, you risk loosing a point of reference to compare with last season.

    I felt there were few differences between Jaime and Buemi, and then that could means that both were oustanding, isn’t it?

    I never liked Red Bull’s idea of managing people, it is cruel to let them know this so late so they will have difficult to find a F1 ride next year.

    Regards.

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      RB are not interested in a point of reference, at least to what has happened in the past. The only reference here appears to be to determine which driver will be the RBR pilot for 2013. The only comparison happening here is Robert v Daniel.

    2. You said race team, but they aren’t one. They are educational class, as it seems.

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        “You said race team, but they aren’t one. They are educational class, as it seems.”

        This is true. And I’ll echo something from an earlier post: STR may well function as the RBR test team, as well. Even if they don’t, that’s such an obvious avenue through which to get around the RRA that the issue does come to mind.

        All of this is very disappointing, but, ultimately, only shocking. It’s not a surprise, given previous form. Still, very disappointing. STR began to look like a proper team this year. Had they kept a stable driver lineup for the upcoming season, I believe they’d have had a decent shot at Top Six in the WCC.

        Team stability in any team sport (and F1 prides itself on being a team sport) generally improves the team as they gain experience together. STR had begun to show that. Too bad it won’t continue, but that’s clearly the plan.

        Hmmm. Maybe Paul Stoddardt will buy the team and bring back the Minardi name? Nah. That’s too easy. The most ironic and wacky outcome would be:

        Max Mosely buys STR and renames it MARCH.

    3. AA says:

      Normally companies give new employees 3 months probation. SB and JA had three years where they failed to show the spark Vettel had, Is that not enough? Given that STR exists to nuture new talent, I’m surprised SB and JA stayed so long.

      It was unfair to mislead the drivers in thinking they would continue, but STR can’t afford another year of mediocre performances from there drivers.

      Stars shine and do something amazing even with poor machinery. Take Vettel winning in an STR or the Hulk nabbing pole in Brazil 2010 in a Williams. What has SB or JA done lately that was amazing?

  14. Darren says:

    Fair enough for Red Bull to make this decision – but it sounds as if the drivers were totally unaware of it. Buemi saying he was in the simulator at Red Bull when he was told and Alguesuari saying he had understood that Red Bull had plans for him next season.

    Not giving them a heads up and any chance of finding their own seat for 2012 is unfair.

    1. Breezyracer says:

      THAT (not giving them time to find a race seat) is EXACTLY why this decision was announced so late. They really don’t want to race their old drivers on other rival teams if they can keep it from happening.

      It will be a capital embarrassment for their new rookies to be taken to task by the old driver lineups. Had these guys been in the mix during silly season they could have easily wound up with Force India, Williams, etc.

  15. Nathan says:

    I think it’s going to be exciting watching two young drivers compete to be top dog as an Aussie I’m excited for Dan and I feel for ja and sb but I feel they had there chance

  16. GT_Racer says:

    If Red Bull want a ‘Rookie training school’ then buy a GP2 team, Running an F1 team like that is wrong.

    Like we have seen with Jaime Alguersuari, They put him in the car with no testing (Not even any Friday running) at age 19 & almost certainly moved him into F1 before he was ready. He’s then put under more pressure than is really ideal considering his age/experience, He shows improvement year on year & at the point when he looks like he’s really got F1 figured out & was showing massive improvement they throw him to one side.

    If STR had retained Jaime I’d have marked him out as someone to really watch for 2012 & if he finds a ride elsewhere I still think he will prove just how good he is & how good he will become as he gains more experience.

    1. I don’t get what is wrong in this. In the past, we had Jordan, Minardi, Ligier, Larousse, Forti, etc filling out that role. The only thing is that they were not owned by McLaren or Williams, the then leading teams.

      You do need an entry point for drivers. HRT did that for STR this year (Ricciardo), Force India for Mercedes (di Resta), Sauber for Ferrari (Perez). Hamilton really is the exception to the rule.

      1. MISTER says:

        Di Resta said he has no connection with Mercedes.

      2. CJD says:

        DTM Driver for Mercedes, and no connections?

      3. [MISTER] says:

        CJD I wasn’t aware that Di Resta is driving a DTM car at this stage. Everybody knows what Di Resta drove in the past. He said recently in the press that he has no Mercedes connections in F1.

        Take it or leave it, I’m not gonna look for the article just to prove my point.

    2. Sebee says:

      People are bitter that this Red Bull marketing effort is rich and they are the “kid on the block” that has all the toys.

      The Winning F1 Team
      The Superstar Driver
      The Superstar Designer
      The Development F1 Team
      The Hottest Parties on the block.
      Star Wars pit crew.
      Garage full of Ferrari Enzos and McLaren F1s in Red Bull colors.

      Spoiled brats! :-)

    3. John Appsteam says:

      Agree with GT_Racer. With this onset STR will never become a contender for being the best team which is wrong.

      What happens when Ferrari, McLaren and Renault will bring their training teams in as well? You’ll have a two level series by mandate.

      I understand that in today’s F1 we have first runners, mid field and end players, but at least everyone is striving to become the first teams.

      1. Sebee says:

        But STR are being clear that they are a Rookie Training school. They are owned by Red Bull and they have clearly nominated their contender team.

        Each of the other teams you mention has second teams in which they have influence due to engine supply.

        Renault has influence to nominate a training team. They may request a French driver in exchange for discount on the engines. But that’s about it the way I see it.

      2. Sebee says:

        I mean Renault has NO influence.

  17. Gudien says:

    Within past week we hear Mark Webber saying he wants to continue at Red Bull past 2012, and now this. Most interesting. A couple quick questions;

    Why spend Dieter Mateshitz’s money running Toro Rosso when the end result is antagonizing Swiss and Spanish fans?

    With spur of the moment decisions made such as this one in the Red Bull organisation how long can we expect Red Bull to remain in F-1? Will Vettel wake up one day and find the team is no longer competing?

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      This is hardly a “spur of the moment” decision. If you believe that, you must have no idea how company executives go about their business.

      1. Gudien says:

        Yes, indeed it was a spur of the moment decision. Alguersuari said in his comments that both Tost and Marko days ago were very positive about him and Toro Rosso.

        And yes, as a business owner, sometimes when given two options you do change your mind.

      2. Liam in Sydney says:

        Yes, that can also be true. But this also assumes that business owners are being 100% transparent in their dealings with drivers. This I seriously doubt. The word of a team owner in F1 is worth about the same as that of Bernie Ecclestone.

  18. Y says:

    More teams should be doing this, a third of the present field should be sacked and more talented young drivers get the seat.

    We all know who they are.

  19. Atef Girgis says:

    Looking forward to the battle between the two , heaps of guts from RB but great to see

  20. Aman says:

    I am very surprised to see them both leave.

    Everyone rates Alguersuari – but I actually thought Buemi was pretty good too and unreliability hurt him quite a bit.

    Problem is they were only ever partnered each other for most or all of their careers – so unless one has a clear edge on the other it is difficult to assess if they are world beaters.

    Should have really only replaced one of them…..probably Buemi.

  21. lecho says:

    For me it’s a pretty strange decision considering Alguersuari’s season. For me he was en route to possibly replace Webber in RBR in 2013 and dropping him now makes no sense. If he was to be dropped he should be moved sideways a year ago when he was clearly underperforming.

    I mean, there’s no guarantee that Ricciardo or Vergne will prove better than him. The rookie test is no indicator. Put any random rookie in the Red Bull car and he will look blindly fast; I guess that the car superiority is more important for unexperienced drivers who are yet unable to drive around its problems.

    Given so it’s a risky decision by STR to drop Alguersuari who can now commit to another team (HRT? Williams/Force India maybe?) and either excel or move down the ranks. He’s a fair driver but still has some work to do, putting him in HRT’s moving fridge in this moment can waste his career.

    As for Buemi, well I think that he reached his peak and opposite the Alguersuari case, Marko and Tost had to see that he won’t be a Red Bull level, although he still is a decent midfielder.

  22. jmv says:

    SERIOUSLY: what i dont understand… if you say today in the press that you were always a rookie’s team… then why the hell let these boys wait around till a few hours ago, when all the seats are being taken.. in and out of F1.

    this is one part i just cannot understand of Toast and Marko. And that 1 week before xmas.

    OK F1 is a tough business but must you be so cruel?

    Can someone sue here? Not for getting a seat back but just for the lack of decency that simply eliminated all options for 2012 for these guys.

    It seems that Red Bull is becoming the anti-sport anti-fair brand

    1. AA says:

      I agree. I am in favor of the decision, but not how it was approached. The two drivers were mislead and the exploited to the very end, to ensure they would
      not be sitting idle. The late decision means their careers in F1 are practically over.

      RBR management are really showing their corporate roots.

  23. jmv says:

    ..and not only to drivers but to sponsors too. Jaime speaking in front of sponsors about 2012. A few days before being shown the door.

    If I were CESPA I’d be calling for an explanation.

  24. Robert says:

    They both performed well with the equipment they had, especially considering the lack of reliability the STR displayed.

    Buemi is a great young talent, and I don’t think the environment squeezed the best out of the young kid. Watching him in kart racing, he has talent and a natural instinct at forcing errors and capitalizing on mistakes.

  25. Heimi Algayschwari, the 21 year old jobless F1 veteran… Maybe HRT should’ve invested some cash into Heimi instead of PDLR.

    Ricciardo seems quicker than both Buemi & Heimi, I can understand that decision. For sure, you know, JEV impressed the mothership operation at the YD test this year, maybe they felt it was OK to get rid of both current STR guys.

    Someone ought to create a new F1 team for young and old veteran drivers, in the old days Arrows and Minardi (sic!) were doing the job; Arrows is dead and Minardi now dislikes drivers with at least some experience. Scuderia Veterano Rosso sounds OK or Scuderia Pensionato Rosso. Now it’s more like Scuderia Bagnato Dietro le Orecchie (wet behind the ears).

    For sure, you know, if Ricciardo or JEV replace Webber and win the title after that, we’ll all be kicking ourselves. For the time being, we’re busy kicking Red Bull management. We’ll see what happens.

    By the way, what’s with “red” everywhere? Are they fans of Lenin? In the old days in the USSR every factory or kolkhoz used to be called “red something”, like red proletarian or red plowman. The bull seems to be a bit of a leftist I think…

  26. Dan Orsino says:

    Sir Frank W must have been praying very hard.
    He’s got quite a choice, let’s hope he chooses wisely

  27. Robin says:

    This is being debated hard across many fora on the internet, but one point I haven’t seen made is that such turnover is very common for conventional pro team sports. In football (both kinds) or hockey (the one kind that matters – ice) and the other big pro sports we pay attention to the stars but there are rookies falling in and out of the league on every team in every season. I guess in F1 there are only 26 drivers on the grid and maybe 35 even in the frame at all for a 2012 drive, so the junior drivers get more attention, but this is absolutely normal elsewhere.

    Having said that, this does seem on the harsh side, especially for Jamie A. The two haven’t done anything amazing, but then very few drivers had exceptional individual drives in the last couple of years, particularly in rain-related conditions, where a great driver might, for example, win Monza in a Toro Rosso. Heck, in a year with record consistency of podium appearances, the only two unexpected podia belong to Petrov and Heidfeld, both of whom are currently out of F1. Then there was Hulkenburg’s shock pole in Brazil last year. Oh, he’s out too. What do I know.

    RC

  28. TheBestPoint? says:

    Hmm: Short Notice discarding after giving a different impression? Time to play the MAYBE game me thinks.
    Maybe Ferrari have been in ”touch” with Vettel towards a 2013 seat.
    Maybe its Adrian Newey who has been enticed over to the PrancingHorse and redbull now need to react with drivers capable of compensating for a non_dominant car.
    Maybe diet$$$Mas$$$ is having second thoughts about the driving academy and Hel**Mar** wants to impress him with the quality of future graduates.
    Or Maybe Marko and Tonz just get their jollies from the despair of their victims.

  29. Sebee says:

    I don’t mean to be cold, but is Buemi that marketable really? I mean looks wise, as in being on a giant Red Bull poster in Time Square? Along Jenson and Lewis? Sorry, but no he is not.

    And Jaime will be like a cat. After his performance this year, he’s landing on his feet 100%. And he is marketable.

    Don’t kill the messanger. It’s the age we live in. Looks of a driver and his marketability are quite important. Show me a champion in last 20 years who didn’t look good on a poster? Who couldn’t sell you a Rolex, Tag, Johny Blue, a Mercedes or Ferrari? Exactly. It’s a bit shallow, but it’s reality.

    1. For sure says:

      I am a big Schumacher fan, but I don’t think looks is one of his strength.

      1. Graham Reeds says:

        He was the end of ugly people winning things.

      2. Sebee says:

        Everyone got a good chuckle when that young Schumi with mustache photo came out. But since he became champion he carries his own in an ad or magazine cover.

      3. Sebee says:

        Are you serious? Schumacher is super marketable. Clean image family man, fit, mature, very presentable, somehow incredibly recognizable by non F1 fans because of his decade on magazines, TV, etc. And the winningest driver in F1.

        You don’t even have to say his name or show his face – his accomplishments say it all.
        Mercedes AMG – as driven by 7 time champion and winningest driver in F1 history.
        SOLD!

        Now that’s marketable!

    2. APASUNOC says:

      hmm.. Vettel is short and has an anoying finger
      Alonso and Hamilton are short (extremely), and Alonso is hardly one to put on a poster. Hamilton has a receding hair line and makes stupid comments like suggesting that the stewards penalise him more because he’s black.

      Button is marketable.

      Schumacher is short and looks weird next to any ‘normal’ person.

      Hakkinen is fine.

      Villenuve is bald, can’t sing nor drive.

      Hill was old when he won.

      Prost wasn’t exactly the media darling (hello Senna!). Mansell is dreary to listen to him explaining anything.

      Senna was brilliant.

      Most aren’t great but we get used to them.

      1. Sebee says:

        Vettel does have that finger, doesn’t he. Are you refering to the index when he’s #1, or the middle which is what he’s shown to the competition this season?

        Joking aside, all drivers are short. Tall ones don’t make it much, do they? Prost, Mansell, Hill – didn’t really have to penetrate the media the way champions have to today. You ever notice how musicians we are shows are all pretty/handsome? I mean you’d figure some rough looking kid would be out there with amazing skill or voice – yet we never see them. It’s all Teen Idol crap. Girls with long legs and clevage or guys with 6 packs and Magnum Steel Zoolander look. Media can be shallow in what it pushes and if you want to market you have the give them the content they want to push. Buemi wan’t that content.

      2. Angelina says:

        @ APASUNOC
        ” Vettel is short and has an anoying finger”

        Vettel is very fair, blonde, blue eyed, slightly curly hair, perfect teeth, red lips, perfect eyebrows and forehead, height of 5’8″. He has a perfect symmetric face which is considered as beautiful & healthy regardless of sex.

        He doesn’t have 6 packs but he is sexier than Brad Pitt.
        BTW his finger is very manly & his arms too r manly.
        5’8″ is not as tall as 6′ but not too short either.

      3. Angelina says:

        BTW look as Vettel’s neck. It is slim & shows a bone which is seen only in a guys neck and never on a girl’s neck. Healthy necks don’t show it.

        I find it too sexy.

  30. JW1980 says:

    On the basis of what has been done here and the supposed reasons why it’s difficult to understand why RBR have kept Webber at the senior team.
    On a more positive note the rivalry between Vergne and Riciardo will be fascinating, it’s not often two young talents are pitched against each other in the same team.

    1. JackFlash says:

      Really? Difficult to undertand why a near WDC winner, and two time WCC contributor, would be valued in RedBull Racing seat.

      Webber is YIN, to Vettel’s YANG. That odd couple team seem to work very well to get the best out of each other, and the RBR team overall. Even if they get a bit agro across the garage pits sometimes.

      Why would RBR be in a rush to see that pairing be dissolved – all for an unknown ‘change of effect’ on Vettel/team?

      If it ain’t broke (especially if its really working for WCC and team dynamics), why be too quick to change it? JF

    2. Paul McGarry says:

      Webber is a very competent driver and probably has a lot of inside info on the car design that Red Bull are keen to keep in house.

    3. O.S says:

      JW1980 – “it’s not often young drivers are pitched against each other in the same team”

      So Alguesuari and Buemi for the last couple of years doesn’t countv or Perez/Kobayashi?

      Next year it may well be Di Resta and Hulkenberg too.

      This “next big thing” phenomenon which so many fans seem to tap into is misguided. Lots of people (our host included) ranked Alguesuari in their top 5 this year – and yet he is making way for an unknown quantity.

      They should have promoted either Ricciardo or Vergne and kept Alguesuari for 2012 then if Alguesuari was beaten the other should have been promoted.

      It seems we’re getting to the stage where new blood on the grid for new blood’s sake is automatically a good thing. I’m not so sure..

  31. Jason says:

    Is Alguersuari or Buemi still part of the Red Bull driver program?

  32. Timo says:

    This does seem true to form and, for Marko, it has worked before. STR drivers in 07 were (at least at the start of the year!) Liuzzi and Speed. It became clear that neither were future top-drawer drivers, there was a candidate in the wings (Vettel) who looked like a star in the making and was available. Sure enough, Vettel was in the STR from the start of 08 and was deemed ready for the RBR race seat by 09. This is the perfect situation for Red Bull, in that they see two very quick young drivers go all out to prove themselves for a year, ready to take over from Webber in ’13. 20 races would be nearly as much as Vettel had before stepping into RBR and I get the feeling that they are only really interested in finding someone of his caliber, and why shouldn’t they.

    Couple of questions to James:
    - have you heard anything about the contract situation with either Buemi or Algesuari. Is this a clean break or simply a demotion from the race seat?
    - What happens to Webber if he slumps early season? If Red Bull are this ruthless, would they contemplate a switch mid-season, and realistically what are their options?

    1. James Allen says:

      Buemi is saying that ties to Red Bull are still in place.

      1. timo says:

        Thanks James. Interesting it’s buemi saying that given that after 2011 performances his stock is probably lower than algesuari’s.

    2. Andrew says:

      I doubt Red Bull would get rid of Webber unless his slump was particularly dire. They still have the constructors championship to defend, and Webber did what he had to do on that score as long as Vettel was racking up the wins.

  33. lux says:

    What I really fail to understand is this:
    Surely the best way to assess the quality of a young driver is to compare him against a known quantity, ie. an experienced and reasonably fast driver.
    If SRT’s raison d’être is to grow young drivers and to select the best of them, they need a reliable assessment process. How can they achieve that when both drivers are rookies to F1 (no disrespect but the HRT is hardly an F1 car, and Ricciardo only had half a season in it any way)?
    This said I’m glad for both guys, I think they deserve their seats.

  34. fausta says:

    There is just nothing to like about this Toro Rosso team. How can someone be a fan of this team? I almost want them to fail miserably.
    I sort of feel sorry for the two new drivers.
    I hope Alguersuari perserveres into a better team in the future and shows them up!

    1. madmax says:

      I have also always found Toro Rosso a boring team but if your blaming some one its Helmut Marko and Red Bull. They are the ones making the decisions here not Toro Rosso but I guess that just adds to the whole boring effect of the team when they can’t even make their own decisions on driver line up.

  35. madmax says:

    I have no problem with replacing them but the problem is leaving it so late and having them believe they were staying right to the day they were dropped.

    Just because Red Bull have done them good by helping them this far doesn’t mean they have the right to treat their drivers like complete rubbish.

    Appalling behavior by Red Bull, I have lost all respect for them. At 21 years old Alguersuari is just a kid too.

  36. Matt Cheshire says:

    After the initial shock, I think RB should be applauded. They are running a leading team, a full development team in F1 and they found a fifth spot for Riciardo.

    RB have kept Webber- who deserves his spot and is highly visible. They gave full seasons to both Torro Roso drivers even though the next drivers had arrived.

    Surely the part of the story that is missing is that RB could have pulled the trigger on one driver in the middle of the season but chose to put Riciardo in HRT.

    With Riciardo in the picture, at least one of the TR drivers was obviously on very borrowed time. Their managers should have been working to find them both options months ago.

    F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. Claiming a seat and keeping it is a huge achievement. Its not a matter of clocking in and doing tidy day’s work. A racing seat is like climbing to a summit- you don’t get to stay there long, no matter how hard the climb.

    I can’t help feeling Buemi and Alguersuari have been overtaken because they didn’t look in their mirrors. They wouldn’t get sympathy for that on the track, why expect it in the bigger race to win an F1 seat?

    Congratulations to Riciardo and Vergne. It’ll be fascinating watching the middle pack next year. I might even buy a Red Bull. What does that stuff taste like?

  37. L33t_Of_Lag says:

    In all honesty. Who gives a crap about mid field and below. Formula One has long been only about a select few teams at the top. And in any case, there is no shock here. Toro has now and will always be a young driver recruitment team.

    On the topic of Teams in general. FIA should give lower teams V-10 engines back :D

  38. Kwill says:

    James how can you write “But Alguersuari stands as a cautionary tale, for Vergne in particular, that you can bring a young driver into F1 too quickly and burn him out before he really gets going.” when you named him in your top 5 drivers of the season? praising his ability to improve during the season.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well he’s not going anywhere fast now is he?

      1. madmax says:

        Not unless “HRT also gives you wings”

    2. Jason says:

      Couldn’t agree more Kwill.

  39. SenseiGT says:

    Marko and Tost are [mod]. They should have done the ethical thing and let them know up front that they were not coming back. Franz and Tost should take some lessons from Peter Sauber!

  40. tom in adelaide says:

    Jaime is young, very mature mentally, and now has great experience in F1. Surely there’s a plethora of teams keen to capitalise on RedBull’s investment?

  41. Matthew says:

    James –

    3 points:

    1. Jaime’s reaction shows wonderful dignity beyond his years and demonstrative of a great character.

    2. Does the decision not show that STR is solely a proving ground for RBR, worth the risk of failure to produce a star.

    3. What do you make of Wickens, who beat both Daniel Ricciardo & Vergne this year in relative machinery?

    Whatever happens, RBR will miss out on a reference point for the rookies V established F1 talent. A bold and very interesting but possibly misguided move.

    And an interesting story.

  42. James F says:

    Red Bull might need to rethink their Toro Rosso “training academy”. The drivers have nowhere to really go. There’s already a bottleneck of sorts in F1. Say one of next year’s drivers wins the “Toro Rosso-Factor” and gets promoted to Red Bull. They stay there and trade wins alongside Vettel for the next 6 or so years; Where do the Toro Rosso rookies go then?

    There seems to be no desire or blueprint for Toro Rosso to progress or succeed as a team in its own right.

  43. Dan G says:

    Hi James,

    Based in the comments last week from Jaime that he was almost assured of a ride next year by Marko and Tost and was talking about the 2012 car already, do you think someone else made the decision ?

    Maybe Horner has more sway with Dietrich then we thought ?

    It doesn’t make sense for them to be almost assuring Jaime he has a ride then dumping him a week later as every week counts when it comes to securing a ride somewhere else.

    Do the RBYDP drivers have their own independent managers ? Or are are they also locked into RB ?

    If I was Jaime’s manager I would be p***d off :)

    1. James Allen says:

      My understanding is that Marko makes the decisions, obviously after discussion with Mateschitz. His stock is high because he produced Vettel

      1. APASUNOC says:

        He produced?? He found and was hung off him like a Christmas decoration.

        He has also ‘produced’ then Hartley, Liuzzi, Speed, Buemi and Alguersari.

        I think Bourdais was Berger’s idea.

      2. ian says:

        News to Mr Vettel senior …

      3. Angelina says:

        Firstly, it was Schumi now Marko.

        Nice one ian.

        Mrs. Vettel will have a hard time to live with Mr. Vettel sr. and maybe Mr. Vettel will have a hard time to prove Sebastian is his son.
        Maybe a DNA test can help if Seb is not manufactured in lab(though he is perfect like a machine/robot) as I have read from some posters on some other forum.

  44. Phil R says:

    To turn the question around slightly, is there a reason why they’ve announced this now?

    There has been doubt for the whole season that both would survive the year, let alone next year. Everyone can understand Red Bull’s reasons, just not the timing of it when the drivers both felt they had a future and there are now no seats left for them…

  45. Jordan says:

    Hi James,

    As an Aussie I’m stoked with the news! I’ve noticed in the comments here and elsewhere that people are raising the question of how sensible it was to drop both drivers as one would have been a good benchmark next year…

    My question is, in this modern era of F1, with the enormous amount of data available to engineers do they feel they can still compare drivers from recent seasons despite regulation changes? In other words, do they work with simulation figures and past data to quantify if a current driver is maximising the car?

    Thanks,

    Jordan

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, everything is measured and they have a lot of data and the experienced engineers can make very sound judgements

      1. Left Philangie says:

        Wow, yes that is a powerful statement.
        If the stats dont lie even when the rules change then this is simple math. The new drivers have more potential for Red Bull. Its as sime as that.

  46. Ram says:

    Well it was expected … Riccardio had shown promise and the level of performace between Jamie and Beumi was neck to neck … so it made decision tough for Marko to fire whom … while Jamie had come good in the latter half of the season but Beumi was riddled with bad luck to … so there even stevens as far as performance is concerned .. one of them had to give way and which one was a tough choice …. i think Marko did the best he could given the circumstances .. lest we forget Luizzi,Klien, Boudias were no slocuh themselves and they were given the kick uncerminuosly …in fact Luizzi in his youth was one of the best karters in Europe …. and he did pretty well to keep HRT over Virgin …

  47. K says:

    Marko and Toast or whatever his name, I’ve lost respect totally for them both.

    This is not just a ruthless decision, but rather a pretty idiotic one.

    Obviously they want the team to sink as well some time in the future without significant and consistent development input from the drivers department.

  48. Michael C says:

    Tost is pretty classless. I understand that STR needs to bring in new drivers, but why so late? Now there is almost no chance for the two drivers to find another seat. This could have been done a lot earlier. Red Bull’s interest in Vergne and Riciardo isn’t a new thing.

  49. Chapor says:

    It’s just wrong… All the respect I got throughout the past year for Red Bull I just lost it again… Now, they are just a fizzy drinks company to me again… Shame on you!

  50. Randy Torres says:

    I wonder if either JA or SB will consider crossing the pond and trying their luck in Indycar, assuming they could get a ride. Its a brand new ball game in Indycar next season with the new Dallara chassis. Sorry for both drivers, especially Jaime. Seems an uneccesarily harsh decision by STR and my sense is that it will prove to be shortsighted.

  51. Lewis Jones says:

    I think Toro Rosso have not behaved fairly towards Alguersuari and Buemi by not notifying them a little earlier that this double sacking could happen.

    I personally think Alguersuari would have been a better fit alongside Kimi at Lotus than Grosjean but now of course there is only HRT or Williams left. And Sutil has probably got the Williams seat once Vijay makes up his mind to drop him in favour of Hulkenberg at Force India.

    A shame for Jaime as I think he has talent. Not a WDC, but a solid midfield performer and could be a good No2 at a leading team (Alonso’s bag carrier, for example, although I don’t think Ferrari could run two Spaniards).

    I also can’t see Toro Rosso doing better in 2012 with two (effective) rookies than they did in 2011. I know Ricciardo’s been at HRT, but does that really prepare you for the sharp end of the grid?

  52. tara says:

    Very impressed with the comments from both drivers. i know it’s probably been PR’d to death but it would have been very easy to say the wrong thing in this situation.

  53. PaulL says:

    I don’t have an opinion on the decision, it just seemed a little disingenuous for Tost to say the reason for their departure is that STR is a rookie team and that they were no longer rookies.

    I am utterly sure Seb Vettel would still have a drive for them the last few seasons if he wished to.

  54. William says:

    “However, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s ethos has always been that of the ‘rookie training school’ and, with over two seasons under your belt, you are no longer a rookie,” he said.

    “In an ideal world, drivers would move from Scuderia Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing, but there are no vacancies with our sister team right now.”

    That would also mean then that in an ideal world from the rookies perspective that RBR has a vacancy every 2 – 3 seasons. How likely is this? Of course the vacancy everyone is thinking about is the one Webber will leave eventually. But then you’ll have a multiple world champion in Vettel with time on his side and then the number two who will be youthful so a vacancy at the sister team is unlikely and a driver turnover of 2-3 years for the lead team makes no sense from a stability point of view. Basically I think RBR STR model was probably a good one when they weren’t world champions and probably thought any talent they developed would get poached allowing for vacancies to appear. If RBR has two drivers who are performing well STR are selling the rookies a promise they can’t keep as they won’t get a look in. Realistically with the machinery they had what could jaime or Sebastien have done to take a seat from the world champion or webber? Nothing probably.

    Anthony Davidson made the point during a practice session that RB corner the young driver market and unfairly throw drivers aside and by that point they are viewed as damaged goods. He has a point here.

  55. ian says:

    If STR is a team for rookies, then why was that not made clear to the drivers earlier so they could have looked for drives when there were still some going. Why not tell them mid season?
    It would be more honest to say the team management are in fact indecisive and cowardly – in not admitting it rather than this retrospective nonsense about being a team for rookies.

    1. AA says:

      They were both told at the beginning of the season that one of them would go (the slowest one). And yet neither of them had a plan B……

  56. Rob Newman says:

    You can judge a good driver the moment he gets into a car. Drivers like Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton, Rosberg were impressive from day one and they caught the eyes of everyone.

    Buemi and Alguersuari didn’t make any such impression even after more than two years. So there is no surprise.

    What I can’t figure out in F1 is, what is people like Barrichello and de la Rosa can to that Buemi or Alguersuari can’t do?

    1. lecho says:

      It’s all considering machinery you’re being putted into: Schumacher started in a strong Jordan, Hamilton made his debut in one of the strongest team in the field, so did Hamilton. We can only imagine what could f.e. Alguersuari do driving an ’91 Jordan, ’07 McLaren or ’06 BMW in his debut year.

      1. lecho says:

        *so did Vettel :)

  57. Derek Lorimer says:

    Time for some older drivers to retire. Weber and Schumacher have had their chance and it is time for some new talent

    1. Rich C says:

      So you think there should be an age limit?
      Sure, that’ll work.
      So Schumi should go because… he only beat his younger team mate a *few times?
      Weber should go because a younger man would have done… what? Beat Vettel? Sure.
      Sorry, but its all about who can deliver the goods, regardless of age, sex, national origin, religion, .. and all those other bureaucratic terms.
      It has nothing to do with “deserving.”

    2. anonymous says:

      You mean ‘young talent’ like Hülkenberg, who got smoked in Barrichello’s pipe? Or do you mean a ‘young talent’ like Rosberg, who gets occasionally beaten an by old man starting a couple of places behind him? I guess a ‘young talent’ who has problems keeping an old fart behind should give up his seat to someone who has not, shouldn’t he?
      No, no one should retire to make room for anyone else! As long as a Formula 1 team has a seat for you, you are good enough to have a seat in Formula 1. Period.

  58. F1 Fan says:

    Yes, I agree, maybe Buemi and Alguersuari didn’t make the cut, but the F1 is a cruel world to drivers as mentioned here as well http://bit.ly/uHwsKd

    Key learning also for Ricciardo and Vergne will be how easily STR can drop their drivers as rightly mentioned by James.

  59. iwan says:

    In my opinion they are both “Toyota’s”. Dependable, reliable…good value for money. But hardly anything that gets the blood going. Most people buy one cause it will last forever and keep good residual. Not because its a passion car or ultimate dream machine

    TR’s pilots were the same. Dependable, reliable, but nothing special.

  60. Dunky says:

    Buemi and Alguesuari were both decent drivers but were never going to be world beaters.

    It feels a bit like 2007 when they cleared out Speed and Luizzi. Look who they then unearthed as their replacement – Sebastian Vettel!

    Change is good.

  61. Heinzman says:

    Looks as if RB management waited on the decision so their drivers had nowhere to go, they could then keep options on them whilst trialling the others in the heat of an f1 season. They would then have all options available for 2013. If JA was available when Grojean was signed, he might be driving next to Kimi…HRT would have taken him before Pedro for sure.

  62. Dominic J says:

    Skydiving (falling from the sky) seems like a suitably Red Bull response from Buemi.

    Is the delayed Force India announcement (originally for yesterday) a chance for Mallya to consider the new exiles?

  63. Left Philangie says:

    Im going to give my angle on all this and you are all not going to like it.
    Either way…..

    Red Bull are the future of what F1 Teams need to strive for. Forget history, prestige and self perceived entitlements.
    If Ferrari, and McLaren dont start to get rutheless with a view to the future you are looking at a Red Bull dominance for a long time to come.

  64. mo kahn says:

    Toro Rosso has made their stand and their culture explicit. They are the training grounds for their sister team Red Bull and nothing more. I think they are bringing in a new dimension for talent identification to Formula one for their sister team Red Bull. So, like Buemi and Jamie has been replaced dispassionately it is evident both Ricardo and Vergne will be replaced if they don’t have what it takes to get promoted to Red bull.

    I must say, it would be hard to do a Vettel again.

  65. David says:

    The thing that confuses me about the whole thing, is why they kept Webber on at the RB senior team.

    They made the decision to renew his contract mid season, when admittedly the TR boys weren’t doing very well, but if they’d waited until the end of the season, I wonder if they’d consider either of them eligible for the RBR seat.

  66. Sergio says:

    F1 teams always they considering strategic questions about their drivers. Is an investment, a product. Hamilton was the big one for Ron Dennis and Vettel is Marko’s best bet for the next future. Various reasons:
    - He is German. Big market.
    - He obviously speaks same language as her Drrrkr
    - He has not a manager. Big point.
    - He is very inteligent in & out of the track
    - RB has enough technical superiority to avoid hard pressing on his number 1 driver. He doesnt need to be an Iceman. Until now I guess. The 2011′s drivers axe respond to some reasosn:
    - Alguersuari & Buemi has short market perspectives. Swiss is a small one, and there is Alonso & DLRS in Spain.
    - Both has managers
    - Alguersuari is very inteligent on track
    - Both are possibly better than Webber right now
    - RB has a huge program of drivers for this and next generation
    - Seb’s Vettel is the current RB’s choice for A team
    - B Team has their own spectacle of gladiators

    1. Rich C says:

      “- Both are possibly better than Webber right now”

      Not a chance.

      1. Sergio says:

        Mode saving neuronal energy implemented for an answering: “yes”

  67. jonnyd says:

    aah yes, such a tough environment for buemi and alguersuari, travelling around the world racing f1 cars for a job – what an incredibly touch environment. i’m sure it was full of pressure……

    give me a break. in the real world what these guys do is nothing compared to say… what a brain surgeon does.
    It is no surprise that these 2 got fired – if they can’t handle it, bring in some new recruits and see what they’ve got.

    What have redbull got to lose? In the worst case, the drivers don’t perform as expected, and they bring in a couple of new recruits.
    At the best, they discover another schumacher or vettel.

    Its not like the team need the money from championship points and so can afford to take risks. They have said themselves, its a rookie training ground. Clearly neither jaime or sebastian made enough of an impression to get Webbers seat.

  68. George says:

    I noticed comments that people are concerned that Toro Rosso will not improve next year due to only having two new rookie drivers. As was very publically indicated Toro Rosso is a “ rookie training school” with that ethos it also goes to reason that the team itself is also not in F1 to win; that is the domain of RBR. With this setup you can also look beyond just the driver and team relationship but also to the engineering side of the equation. As Mr. Marko oversees both teams I would not be very surprised that technology is also shared between the teams thereby reducing costs and allowing further development of the prime teams car without overstepping the RRA agreements between the teams. With this type of relationship you can see why all the major team are having difficulties with how Red Bull operates and how potentially, very cleverly going around the RRA .

    I can understand why teams like Ferrari are arguing for third cars to be allowed in F1. In effect Red Bull has both 3rd and 4th cars that are used as both test beds for the main team and training for up and coming drivers. Unless we see modifications of the rules to discourage what we are seeing at Red Bull expect to see more prime and secondary team relationships forming on the grid. Ferrari → Sauber, Mclaren → Force India, Lotus → HRT, etc…

    I am ok with drivers being sacked, but don’t try to distract the fans from what is really going on!

  69. eric weinraub says:

    Never been a fan of Torro Rosso. This only confirms they really are a team you would not want to drive for. They have done right by 1 driver, Vettel, in the near decade they’ve been racing. Hard to believe this was the team, Minardi, we all loved to root for.

    1. Daniel MA says:

      In all fairness this is not Toro Rosso’s fault it’s the owner’s fault Red Bull, the only hope is that they sell the team in the future that way any good driver they have won’t have be given away to Red Bull and they can have the younger ones for more than 2 seasons.

  70. Stephen Hughes says:

    I wonder if it is time for Bernie to have a word in some ears. It is not a waste of a grid slot to have STR acting purely as a team to run rookies? If they need to train their drivers up then run a GP2 team and pay for places in existing F1 teams. How can the engineers develop a good car if they aren’t given one reliable, known driver as a yard stick to work with.

    I’m sure the new drivers are good and the team will be trying as they need the finishing position for prize money but they aren’t being run as an F1 team should be, for results alone…

  71. Qiang says:

    Hi James,
    Do you think Red Bull have internally compared the two STR drivers against Vettel/Webber in the identical car to really find out what they are made of?
    My other question is about language barrier. Do you think non native English speakers appears to have slight disadvantage (in communication with engineers)? Roseberg is as fluent as English. What do you think of Vettel’s English?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yrs, that’s what the young guns test was about for them

    2. Angelina says:

      Vettel’s feedback is the BEST in the paddock.
      He is fluent in English. Infact, Vettel speaks in Brummi accent coz Newey uses it.
      Do u find him lacking anything from his interviews?

      In fact he speaks faster than LH & Button and definitely any other non-English speaking driver.

  72. anonymous says:

    regardless of what Tost says I do not understand the team’s decision. First up, I think that the team should have kept one of the drivers as benchmark for the new one and as a safe bet. Secondly I do think it’s bad manners to let your drivers believe that a contract for the following year is just a formality, a team should let their drivers know that the situation is looking grim so they can prepare and look for alternatives.

  73. Johnny Talia says:

    I have been a fan of RBR/STR all season, and of Vettel in particular, but following this debacle I can clearly see that the management at Red Bull are unscrupulous, money-grubbing, and disingenuous. Based on that observation, I hope some other team (ANY other team) cleans RBR’s clock in 2012. I am now fully in ABRB (Anybody But Red Bull) mode for 2012.

    1. Angelina says:

      Johnny

      Its better to be a fan of Vettel & Redbull than to be disappointed to see them winning.

  74. Rich C says:

    Its a bit of an insult to FOTA, as well.

    RB is saying in effect “we’re too good to be in your silly club, but we’ll leave our “B” Team in so they can get some training and mess with your plans.”

  75. Bollo says:

    Since when has F1 team management ever been focused on being fair?

    When I saw the initial toro Rosso line up for next year I thought “boring mostly mind field team again – yawn” but now I will be watching them with keen interest. As will a lot of people.

    It’s a bold and interesting decision.

  76. Andrew Barker says:

    I feel that Alguersuari should still be at Toro Rosso next season me personally have never rated Buemi that was the right choice to get rid of him. James a question for you how long will these new drivers get? I mean what would happen if both drivers are struggling mid season next year they have virtually two rookies it’s a strange one for me.
    Also Pedro De La Rosa at HRT i know there going to be a spainish national team but your having a laugh !!!!!

    1. James Allen says:

      Got to get at least two seasons, haven’t they? If one of them is really beating the other they would be the one to step up to the A Team.

      Not sure either of them is a Vettel, but then Vettel didn’t look like he does now at the outset of his Toro Rosso spell.

      1. Andrew Barker says:

        Well you have a point there James the previous incumbents did have at least two seasons to show there worth.
        There’s always been rumours that the team could be up for sale what would be the situation then regarding the drivers for the future etc etc?

      2. Angelina says:

        @ James
        Vettel would have been WDC 2009 if not for the Brawn’s double diffuser.
        Further, Vettel was voted as Best Driver of the Year by team principals in 2009(his 2nd full season).

        Vettel had won a race in STR & was about to b on podium in Suzuka in 2007.

        How can you say “Vettel didn’t look like he does now at the outset of his Toro Rosso spell”

      3. David A says:

        @Angelina – James probably meant that back then he was the promising, talented youngster. Now he’s honed his skills and is a double world champion.

  77. Andrew says:

    Hi James it seems an interesting debate for the winter. Can’t help but feel that Jamie should have stayed at least as a baseline and if Ricciardo beats him then bye bye Jamie. Question James who should Ricciardo and Vergne be looking over their shoulders for? Who is next inline in the Redbull stepladder?

  78. Rudy says:

    What can you expect from a drinks company? These two red bull teams are a marketing excercise. Their racing history sheet is almost zero, although better than some other who have tried hard in the past (eg. Jordan). The guys at Force India and Sauber must be really pleased they have nothing to fear against two rookies next season, even if the car is barely superior. Well done Mr. Marko, you’ve just openend the door to Force India, Williams and Sauber to slip in.

  79. Hassan says:

    Maybe there could be a “Junior F1″ Championship in which drivers who do not have much experience of F1 could showcase their skills. The cars used in this Championship could be real F1 car, maybe even new cars, and maybe one car per team to keep the costs in control and prevent one driver in a team politically hindered by the team (yes, I believe this does happen in F1 and in fact it happens quite often). These races could be 20 lap “sprint” races, maybe with one mandatory pit-stop to change tyres so the drivers would learn that side as well. The teams would bring 3 cars into each weekend – 2 for the “big boys” and 1 for “the kid”. This is not an impossible amount of cars as we know the teams used to do this back in the old days having a spare car with them.

    1. Ryan Eckford says:

      Hassan, I think it can be done. Either a Junior F1 Championship, or a Division 2 F1 Championship.

  80. PeteM says:

    Well in all a pretty entertaining thread this one. I’ve learnt ingredients that make up energy drinks, definitions of doctors, etc etc.
    In all F1 needs constant change. Maybe we are starting to see the new F1 philosophy in that no seat is safe no matter who you are and I don’t think this is a bad thing for the sport as we all know at times it can become very stagnant.
    Like any job if your lazy or content but you know you can get away with it you do and performance diminishes. I sure F1 is no different.
    Great to see the 2 new guys at STR. Dan for Marks job at end of 2012 and in 2013 their might be an American on the grid again at STR.
    Who knows but this is what’s great now with F1, the uncertainty of it all, no ones going to deny their is still plenty of interest in F1 over the break and that’s good for the sport.
    Still scratching my head about HRT decision to hire Pedro.

  81. Angelina says:

    @ James
    Is Vettel involved in the decision of STR drivers?
    I guess they definitely approach Vettel before making any decisions about his No.2 at RedBull.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I’m sure he isn’t

      1. Angelina says:

        @James
        Is Vettel involved in decisions about his no.2 at Redbull or do they casually discuss with him?

        Thanks for answering my previous que.

      2. James Allen says:

        No I don’t believe so. It’s not up to him. It’s up to Mateschitz ultimately, but Horner and Marko will have a big say in it. Currently Webber is there and that has a lot to do with his relationship with Mateschitz, the boss of Red Bull. I’m sure that Marko would like to have someone else in there. I don’t think Vettel minds. He would if it was Alonso or Hamilton coming in, probably. But I don’t see RBR going that route

  82. Robert says:

    Two full years in a decent F1 car is enough to show if you have the “special talent” or not. Many fine young drivers who have passed successfully through F3, World Series, GP2 never get this opportunity.

    Now is the time for others to have their chance.

    A tough but fair decision.

  83. Stefanos says:

    Also makes the whole concept of STR rather questionable. Isn’t GP2 and all the other junior formulae supposed to be F1 feeder series? Do we now need feeder teams within F1? And what about the whole F1 brand that its all about performance?

    My guess is that if there was no use to be found for the constant stream of drivers coming our of the RBR acedemy, the academy’s role itself would inevitably be brought into question. And Dr Marko would end up losing some funding (and cudos)…

    I did not think it possible, but my view of STR has been diminished further still!

  84. GWD says:

    Firstly, poor decision timing by the heads of STR. Obviously not without precedent in F1, but poor form regardless. Do we know if RB/STR have contractural obligations to either sacked driver (remuneration) or if either have course for recompense? Secondly, this must put STR in a new perpetual spotlight during ’12. Surely R & V’s performance gets a secondary media look after the primary media attention fades from the winner/most dramatic incident of each race (at least for the first few races) to a higher degree than is warranted for a midfield team, and this will surely put pressure on the new drivers. That might be the kick along they need to really try to beat eachother, but can’t help feel this is more about media focus than driver development. No such thing as ‘bad publicity’, perhaps?…

  85. Pete S. says:

    What do you say about recent claims that Marko had something to do with Jaime’s firing due to the video that has appeared with him telling off Jaime at Korea for blocking Vettel??
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-Sn-w0o6s0&feature=player_embedded

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