F1 Winter Break
Toro Rosso shakes things up with all new drivers for 2012
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Dec 2011   |  5:49 pm GMT  |  168 comments

Toro Rosso, the Red Bull junior team which exists to develop young drivers for the energy drinks brand, has unveiled its driver line up for 2012 and it’s all change with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne replacing Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.

The programme is overseen by Dr Helmut Marko and he has made a tough decision here, clearing out Buemi and Alguersuari and bringing in new blood.

The decision is something of a shock, given that Alguersuari, who is still only 21, had appeared to be getting a lot stronger in the second half of the season and outpointed Buemi. The Toro Rosso announcement did not make it clear what the next step might be for the two outcasts, whether one of them might be given an opportunity as 3rd driver at Red Bull for example, but the subtext of the announcement is that the Red Bull group doesn’t believe that either of them are the right men to progress up the ladder to race long term alongside Sebastian Vettel.

It’s a fantastic opportunity meanwhile for the two youngsters, both of whom look fast. Vergne becomes the third French driver on the grid next year. He has had very little time in an F1 car, while Ricciardo was farmed out to HRT and got on top of Tonio Liuzzi. Having a rookie and a virtual rookie in the car will make life tricky for the engineers, but veteran Giorgio Ascanelli has shown that he can make it work with whatever he is given.

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost said, “Over the past year, both Daniel and Jean-Eric have proved their worth and I expect them to make a significant contribution to the team’s 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 1 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.

“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 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.”

Alguersuari was as shocked as most observers to learn of his sacking but refused to stick the boot in to his former employers,

“I am very surprised by the decision,” he told Spain’s Marca. “Just a week ago I talked with Helmut Marko and Franz Tost and they told me they had plans for me in 2012.

“They did it with enthusiasm and showed a lot of confidence in me, they also asked me to be in Madrid on Monday for a day with CEPSA, where I talked about our F1 project in 2012.

“I will not judge the situation because I thought that they were crazy give me a debut in 2009 at 19 years and three months, without ever having completed a mile in F1 before. Today’s news seemed like the greatest misunderstanding during the best moment of my sporting life.”

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Looks like Alguersuari didn't make Helmut Marko's top 5 this year James !You should have picked Di Resta like Jens Jensen and I... lol !


If it was up to Marko, he would have probably replaced Webber instead of Alguersuari? 🙂


Red Bull is spending a lot of money on the junior programm and on several sponsorships but until now, the only one driver really promoted and giving RBR the necessary returns is Vettel. We know Marko´s reaction concerning Webb.

It is sad to see two young drivers being fired, but to say who works or not you have to be part of the team, you have to be inside and know how the drivers develop, how they work with engineers and what are their skills to become a top driver.

But please give them a chance to move, the way they fired Jaime and Buemi is not serious, everything was set-up and they keep them moving, just a tipical move of a business company. Not a racing team of the top formula.

Mr Helmut is spending a lot of money promoting driver after driver but fired all of them once in F1. No one works ???

But living Marko´s RBR for a moment, another problem here is that there are a lot of drivers like Rubens, Jarno, etc with so many years in F1 that are not giving the space to youngsters. Probably, F1 driver participation should be restricted to 6 years for i.e, and then they have to move.

What is the reason to have a bunch of promotional categories like GP2, GP3, F2. F3. FRenault, etc ??? If then there is no more room to enter F1. Look Hulkemberg just to say one,he did great in GP2 and was promoted to F1 but he was moved quickly because of money,.... hopefully he returns in 2012.

As F1 supporter I dont see how STR will progress from middle grid with un-experienced drivers. It seems they will only remain in F1 as an option / business / promotional team, but we dont have to expect more. They will never reach McLaren or Ferrari status.


Question: did Buemi or Alguersuari ever look like world champion material?

Most pundits will probably answer no. In which case, it is time to move on. Two and half to three years is more than a lot of drivers will ever get to prove their worth.

And you never know, Jaime with Cepsa backers may find another drive. Buemi, I'm less confident.


I guess this is really about finding the right talent for the main red bull team in the future and the current two where deamed not to be the very top. It may seen cruel, but it's true.

You have to be rutheless and try new things if you want to stay at the top. More so than ever in the world of F1.


Developing young drivers is a noble aim, but if you then dump them at the last minute with little chance to find another drive it rather undermines it.

I think it's a good thing to have a team with a young driver policy, but they've been unfair in not letting Buemi and Alguersuari know earlier.


I think we need to remember. STR is really there to find the next king to wear the crown for RB.

Anything else must come second to that.


Yes that's absolutely true, as long as we're clear and have stripped away the layers of PR that lead them to claim they're "providing a first step into Formula 1 for the youngsters", as if it's being done for the young drivers' benefit. You're right, it's really only for the benefit of Red Bull Racing. Nothing wrong with that of course but they shouldn't pretend otherwise. And should still have the courtesy to give their drivers a chance at another team when they reject them.


exactly. Marko is a ruthless operator, but he is there to give red bull titles, not to keep a pair of good drivers, but not world champion's material, going and going.

They are looking for the next vettel, and neither jaime, or buemi are the ones.

Ricciardo might be, but we have to wait and see.

If not he'll be droped like a bad habit.

The problem in today's f1, it's that there is not room for second class drivers, unless they come with a budget.


True - you want new talent, but for TR they will also need a decent driver to help develop the car (now they can not rely on RB to help in car design and updates...)

So the constant change of young drivers will take its toll, in my opinion, so that getting up the pecking order for the team will be hard. So long as they are happy to sacrifice TR's success for the long term benefit of a decent driver to partner Vettel....


I think they are making ther wrong call here.

They should have let Jaime stay and take in one of the newcomers. I agree with James when he says that Jaime was getting better by the end of the season. I think Jaime has a lot o potential an in the right atmosphere he could develop in to a top driver. I very much hope he finds a new team for 2012. It would be intresting putting seeing him alongside Fernando in a Ferrai. ;-D

Juan V


Yes, I thought they would have kept Alguersuari as a benchmark for Ricciardo with JEV as 3rd driver running in FP1s.



Do you think there is a good chance on Jaime going to HRT making it a fully spanish team as he has done enough this year to deserve a seat somewhere on the grid?


They need cash and I don't know if Cepsa are this keen on HRT being so unstable at the moment.

Petrov, Senna or even Giedo Van Der Garde have more cash to offer for the ride.


I've heard about this possibility and yes I think it could be what happens. Don't think Liuzzi has a watertight contract, Jaime deserves to keep his foot in the F1 door as you say and he may be able to bring sponsorship too if they need it.


Now is the chance for Williams or Caterham to snap up Jaime. He is far more exciting than Sutil, Barichello. And has more fire in the belly that a worn-out Trulli.

For Jaime it could be a good break from the traditional Red Bull ladder.


Actually I think Jaime wouldn't beat Sutil or Rubens especially Sutil, Torro Rosso is right to replace these 2 dead wood in my opinion they just wasn't getting anywhere.


I don't want to be in the shoes of all these Red Bull youngster program drivers still waiting in the wings to become the next Vettel. There clearly is a lot of talent there, but this way it will go to waste. I guess it's a luxury of sorts for Red Bull, but perhaps they could consider investing in an ailing team, like HRT to give them other drivers a chance. I hope this is not the last we will hear of Buemi and Alguersuari, but next years options a fast disappearing... Perhaps some old foxes can move over, like Trulli, Liuzzi, ... they had there chance. At least on thing is positive: they are no pay-drivers :-/


isn't that what Toro Rosso is to Red Bull?


Yes,it must be nice to be able to afford having a practice squad actually training in real F1 cars in real F1 races.


How many teams should Red Bull own?

The drivers got seats, time to prove themselves in F1. If the talent is not sufficient based on Red Bull's needs, they have more than fullfilled their obligation to these drivers in my view.


Excellent ideas, jeffrey. Since each team must be a constructor, I see no conflict of interest should Red Bull fund HRT as another development team. And, yes, it is nice to see the quality of drivers increase in inverse proportion to the pay drivers. (While Pastor Maldonado brings TONNES of money to Williams, he dominated GP2 in 2010, so can clearly drive a race car.)


Maldonado was soundly beaten by Hulkenberg who also had the measure on Barrichello by season's end.

As a former Williams fan, I must admit this year's line up did make me lose interest in the team.


as for TR... Vergne and Ricciardo are extremely competitive in each other's environments... is going to be fun to watch.


I expected Buemi to be dropped but I didn't expect Alguersuari to be dropped also. I would have thought it would have been better to keep one experienced driver at least, even if it was for an additional year just to help with development.


It just shows that its not a serious race team, its a Drivers Ed team. They are concerned with driver development, not car development apparently.


Wow, what a shocker! I felt Alguershari in particular merited another year.

Whilst this ought to be applauded as it is in distinct contrast to the apparent lack of opportunities for young talent elsewhere, it is a real shame for both outgoing drivers who, from the outside at least, appeared to be performing well and delivering solid points.


These guys look cookie cutter alike in that photo. Hope this doesn't reflect their personalities - Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto, I speak from a press release only.


James interviewed Daniel quite often for the pre-show on Aussie TV. He is reminiscent of Vettel in the way he handles the media, smiles, giving genuine answers (maybe even a bit to nice).

JEV is typically latin from what I've seen so far in FR3.5.


What's your view on this James?


I think its the best news of the week.


Dont be stupid. Alguersuari is one of the best drivers on the grid and hes the youngest!! This is ridiculous that he is out of a car for 2012. Come on Williams - snap him up!


How do you figure? Buemi beats him in 2011 if you adjust for mechanical issues.

Also, calling people stupid because their opinion differs to yours provides insight into the quality of your character.


With all the red bull owned teams, cars and drivers on the grid next year why don't the FIA allow four car teams and be done with it!!

Before Mercedes took control of Brawn GP they sold their shares in Mclaren. I think Red Bull should have to do the same with STR. Your thoughts James?

Also. All F1 teams should have to race under the flag of the country of where the chassis is constructed. Im sick of seeing cars designed and built in the UK winning GPs only for national anthems of a different country being played on the podium. We must celebrate UK manufacturing success!


Fully agree with your point about team nationality. Eight of the twelve teams are based in Britain, yet only three of them are registered as British. Of them, I believe that Lotus Renault was previously registered as French in its former guise as "Renault". In checking out where teams are based, I was a little surprised to find that the very Spanish sounding HRT is actaully based in Germany, so if they ever manage to win a race we'll hear the German national anthem!


Lets name and shame those teams! If the chassis is designed and built in britain with a British based workforce, and you win a GP at least wave the flag and national anthem for Britain.

Hmmm might have to get a letter off to the UK based teams.


No, because they race with a Spanish licence. Same situation as the one you were just talking about with all the "foreign" teams based in the UK.


The problem with forcing them to sell it is that someone needs to be able to (and want to) buy it otherwise we just lose the team and you still end up down two drivers on the grid.

They have been making noises trying to sell it for years now (and supposedly they have to at some point) but it's not exactly the greatest economic climate...


Perhaps you had another Formula in mind?

Whoever pays the bills, gets to have their song played, and brand attached to the team.

Think of UK as a kind of "Olympic Village" for F1 teams, it always has been. Anyhow, with most of the teams being European, and UK being part of the EU...oh wait a minute, that's right. Never mind.


I think to describe the UK as an Olympic village for F1 teams cheapens the UK's contribution to F1 history. We're better then that. And I think we're better staying away from Europe at the moment. At least until the winter testing begins!


OK, maybe that's not the ideal comparison. But you know what I mean - UK is where the industry is, and anyone who wants to take part has to set up base there and bring their money into UK to tap the resources and tallent. So in essence it's UK based due to culture, but international in the sense that anyone who wants to be serious about winning in F1 has to set up camp there. The least a team owner should get for pumping all that investment into UK and keep the industry going is to have their name, flag, and song played. It's more than fair.


STR has officially been up for sale for a few years now, but Red Bull will only sell if they can find the right buyer.


interesting is that Buemi was at MK simulator a few days ago? 3rd driver position evaluation?

As far as I know Jaime was never as close to Marko as Buemi was.


Fantastic News!Great to see a team dumping drivers that clearly are never going to get to the top!Wish some others would do the same....So much for Alguersuari being the 5th best driver of 2011 ...lol


Gutted for Jaime. Brought in too young. Last year should have been his first season.

Deserves a shot at third Driver at red bull and a chance to replace Mark Webber in 2013.


Wow, I can understand the need to bring drivers through their program but what of the incumbents? Buemi had his chance in my view but Alguersuari deserves better. He really came along this year and I felt his seat was safe for sure. Just goes to show how harsh F1 can be. Hope Jaime finds a home as a reserve further up the grid or at HRT.


I really want to know whats going in their mind after this great performances. I am sure they can do nothing about it when its the Team's policy to keep change the line up. Really a good luck to them.


Suppose it's what the team is there to do, bring new drivers into F1. Buemi and Algersuari have both had at least a couple of seasons, retaining them would have undermimed the premise of looking for new talent.


Wow! That is pretty shocking news but I never was a fan of the two previous drivers. Not that I didn't like them but they were not charismatic enough in my opinion.

Glad that Ricciardo got a drive in a better team! Can't wait to see how he performs.


Well, well, well. Didn't expect a wholesale change. Shame for Alguersuari, I'd really come to rate him this season but I suppose neither really deserved the boot...


I think this is a stupid decicion, Jaime has been doing a great job this year & now gets thrown aside.

so which of str's 2 new drivers will be without a ride for 2013?

str been a constant revolving door does nothing but put young drivers under a ton of unnecisary pressure & not give them time to properly develop. then when they start to develop as a driver there shown the door.


Best move Torro Rosso ever made. Shake it up, new blood on the grid- and both drivers with some potential. Best thing |I herd Helut Marco do in a long time.

More of the same please from Sauber, Caterham and especially Williams- get rid of the pay drivers on the grid.


And who is going to pay the bills? you?

There have always been pay drivers in F1.


Plenty of money exists in F1, no need to ruin the spectacle with substandard drivers.... CVC would be a good place to start looking for extra money, then of course FOM takes an 'unnecessary' slice of the pie also.

Remove the 'blue flag' and 'one move' defensive rules, and get back to 'real' F1 racing. Like in Senna- Prost- Mansell days. We were nearly there with the tyres early on in 2011, and it was fun for a bit, but not long enough….


Same from Sauber and Caterham?! Kobayashi/Perez, Kovalinen/Trulli? Really?!


Good decision.

Too bad for Buemi and Alguersuari but they didn’t have the spark or the wow factor and never impressed. They were ok when the car was good but other than that they didn't do anything special. They had plenty of time to prove themselves but in the end failed miserably.

Ricciardo looks too nice for the sport and needs to be aggressive. Don't know much about Vergne but I am sure these two drivers can make a good impression.


Have to say while I am sorry both drivers have been dumped from the team. Their replacements have a good pedigree. Plus they will be super competitive next season trying to impress for a 2013 race seat at the main team.

Something sadly the current driver line up while both good racers didn't come across as being a worthy successor to Vettel. Who will not be at Red Bull forver so there is an ultra pragmatic logic in this move.


Well, I did NOT see that coming. Wasn't Alguersuari doing marketing events with Cepsa even yesterday???

On the other hand, I am delighted to see 3 French drivers on the grid... It's been quite a while, really...

Will Ferrari make it 4 by pushing Bianchi on Sauber? I would HATE to see Kamui go though...


Bianchi has lot more talent than Kamui, even this year Perez has beatten him.


Wow I can see why they'd want some new blood at STR but why not drop Buemi and insert one of the new guysm then say drop the older driver for 2013? Anyway, hope Jaime A. lands at Caterham or Williams.


Shock announcement indeed. I doubt that Buemi and/or Alguersuari will ever be seen in F1 again, it would be strange to remove them from the Junior Red Bull just to put (one of) them as a test driver in the Senior Red Bull...

But then again, doing strange things seems standard policy for Red Bull!


This is kind of surprising, but I think a good move. I don't know much about Vergne, but I guess Ricciardo is a real talent. I think Alguersuari has talent too, but didn't show enough results for them to think he has all the requirements. I suspect every time Marko read about Alguersuari's latest CD, or saw a photo of him DJing at a club, he was probably thinking 'why isn't he in bed, in the gym, or on the simulator?'


As much as i see this as a little harsh both the drivers I would expect one as you say James to at least be 3rd driver for the senior team. With Buemi and Alguersuari, Toro Rosso know what they have in the drivers, they know their strengths and weaknesses, replacing both drivers is possibly the best way to evaluate the 2 new up and coming drivers. I believe the best of these 4 would get a chance to claim Webbers seat for 2013. Dont forget that if either Ricciardo and Eric Vergne disappoint then either Buemi and Alguersuari would be back racing with the other as a 3rd driver role.


And, what happens if Webber has a top 2012 and shirtfronts Mako re following season?

Don't buy this nonsense that F12 drivers are over the hill at 30.

Had Jim Clark lived, he'd had won races into his fifties.

Youth ain't everyfing.


based on this season, I think Webber was one of the worst drivers on the grid in the best car. He was lucky to get a contract this year


What a shocker ...both sebastian and jamie are already 21 and 22 ...and to be given such a boot is a terrible shame.. i think they went wrong when either could not dominate his team mate ... but maybe other teams may be interested in them ... Jamie being Spanish and with some sponsors probably could extend his stay in F1 if he could get into HRT ... while Beumi it seems he has hit a road block .... they had their chance to make it to the top and they just blew it ... sad but true


Harsh, but that's F1 these days. Thankfully it was different years ago and that's why we had such special drivers in the 80 and 90's and to some extent the early 00's.



I think it's time you opened up a blog to challenge the Webber haters to justify their thinking.


I don't want to have anything to do with "haters" - it's the dark side of the internet and we try as hard as possible to filter it out


Harsh, on Alguersuari in particular.

Thought it would have made more sense to bump Buemi, see how Ricciardo or Vergne fare against Alguersuari for the first half of 2012.

Then if the 'rookie' was at/very close to Jaimes level at that point, bump Alguersuari for Ricciardo/Vergne at that stage.

No real barometer now for how fast these two are.


Exactly! They now have little way of comparing these new drivers against the rest of the pack.

In their position I would have done exactly as you suggest.


I'm sad to see Alguersuari without a seat for next year (so far) and the remaining options seem to be less competitive than Toro Rosso.

On the other hand, I think this is one of the best news he could have. Red bull management is a joke and is better to be out of their reach at 21 than at 24 or so. Maybe a season at GP2 or similar will help him to bounce back.

I think this move is exactly what Red Bull wants to sell about its brand, youngsters, extreme, reckless. To throw out 100 races of experience by 10 and at the same age (values approx.), makes no sense.

Sometimes the perspective is lost. Red Bull is not a racing team, is just a brand that owes a workshop and has good employees. Their are not as McLaren, Ferrari, MBenz, Sauber, Lotus(es), etc. They will win everything with RBR and dump Vergnes and Ricciardos for a couple of years, and then, sell everything and move to another extreme activity. Why? Because overwhelming success and slaughtering of young drivers is extreme at the beginning. After a couple of rounds, becomes boring.

Constantijn Blondel

Isn't owning a workshop with good employees what makes a racing team? Who cares what stamp is on the team form, it's the people that have the pedigree, not the commercial entity.

Imagine - just for the heck of it - the complete McLaren team being bought overnight by Coca Cola (to stay in the branche). Would that suddenly make their pedigree any less?


uuu..that's a brave move. The midfield teams must be either happy or scared :))

I wish both of these young drivers the very best.

I hope Alguersuari finds a place somewhere.


I have to admit to not really following your view on Jamie Alguersuari being 5th best driver of 2011 and it's a little bit of a told you so that they have both been axe'd.

Neither in 2 seasons have managed anything really great! That has to be the aim of Torro Rosso and the Redbull investment in this team. They are looking for another Vettel and i dont think either of these two guys can come near that comparrison.

I'm excited to see this news as it's always nice to loose two drivers that i really dont think much of for some potential and Ricciardo looks like he has some spark.

James do you rekon the axed drivers might land anywhere in F1 or is it Goodbye for them both?


Thought both did solid jobs in 2011 with Alguersauri in particular impressing in the last 2/3 of the season. RB obviously don't see either of them as the next Vettel so out they go.

I can't see Buemi back on the grid while Alguersauri may end up in an all-Spanish HRT team - shame because I think he's better than that.


Not that surprising, Ascaneli is on record saying he things Buemi and Algersuari are as good as they are going to get, and they arent that great.


I would have kept at least one of the current drivers.


Sadly I can't say I'm surprised Buemi went - he was outperformed by his teammate too many times and didn't have any particular standout performances - but I AM surprised that Alguersuari was dropped also. For a young driver his performances were very consistent and I'd venture to suggest he flattered the car on a number of occasions. Both Ricciardo and Vergne are themselves talented and deserve a shot at F1, but this revolving door policy is becoming a bit of a joke and I sincerely hope Alguersuari is taken by a team which recognises his talent.


While I can appreciate the worth of young driver programmes, I'm beginning to wonder if they're not poisoned chalices? Especially the Red Bull operation. I have seen lots of comments from Marko saying he's looking for the next Sebastian Vettel, which is all fine and well, but probably never going to happen. I think they hit the mother load with him, and I wonder if they're not expecting too much of these guys?


I feel for Robert Wickens today. Not even two years ago, the guy was booted from Red Bull's young driver program in favour of Ricciardo, Vergne, etc. This year, he beats both of them to the FR3.5 championship, and now he has to watch them on the TV!

Ok, if he's no longer a part of the Red Bull stable he wasn't going to be achoice for Torro Rosso, but to also lose what should have been his seat at Virgin/Marussia to Charles Pic?

What a shame.


It is a shame, but Toro Rosso will be as high as most red bull drivers go. If your an amazing succes in a Toro Rosso, you go to the A team, provided they decide you can be fitted in. Red Bull would not let you go to say Mercedes, Ferrari, Mclaren etc. If your not a sucess in a Toro Rosso, you won't be moving up the grid from what is a mid table team, and the chances are you won't be moving sideways either.


Poor Jaime. Does that make him favourite for Rubens' old seat? I'd miss Rubinho but Jaime's would be such a potential career to waste. Williams (or conceivably Force India) could do very well out of him.


Very harsh but understandable decision the more I think about it.

Buemi it is fair to say is probably finished with F1. He has shown to be a solid but unspectacular driver and I've seen no improvement since his debut season. To have driven over 50 Grands Prix is more than enough - I'd look at this rather than age, considering what Vettel, Alonso and Hamiton have achieved.

Alguesuari has shown much more promise of late, but apparently was told by Marko that he would stand a good chance of replacing Webber in 2013 only if he could win in an STR which is ridiculous considering they practically car-shared with RBR back then with Vettel. 2nd seat in HRT sounds plausible especially with some good Spanish sponsors (another case of 'pay driver' then?).

So who's next in line in the Red Bull Racing conveyor belt?


Very surprised, especially as it was looking a like a given that Buemi and Alguersuari would stay. The logical move would have been keep Jaime, promote Daniel and farm out JEV to Caterham, so I'm surprised they haven't done that.

I wonder what this means for 3rd drivers at RBR/STR next year. Red Bull don't really have anyone now ready to make the jump up to F1 in a 3rd driver role. I wonder if they have snapped up an experienced driver to act as reserve for both teams. Or maybe it will be Buemi? I suspect Alguersuari will have a drive at HRT at the very least.


This decision looks a strange one to me. It will be very difficult to evaluate the new drivers' performances next season.

Either they are equally fast, in which case we do not know whether it is the car or them being good/bad.

Or one of them outperforms the other. Then the other's career will be effectively over, while we still won't know whether the faster driver would also have beaten the current driver line-up.


Wow, didn't see that one coming! This has the potential to really shake up the driver market and spark an early outbreak of silly season.

I had suspected that Buemi's future might ultimately lie in sportscars with Peugeot, but not just yet. Alguersuari I think has a lot to offer and at only 21, offers a blend of potential and experience that would appeal to a number of teams on the grid. I think we could see Jaime bump an established and/or contracted driver from his seat before the first test.

Having said all that, I think Toro Rosso have chosen the best of the current crop of drivers knocking on the door of F1. If they can carry their form from this season into 2012, then I'd expect some eye catching performances and points finishes from both Vergne and Ricciardo, but probably more crashes than if they'd stuck with their 2011 lineup.


Dropping Alguersuari is just utterly stupid. They throw him in at 19 he continues to improve season on season despite the car not been great & then they kick him to the kerb as he begins to consistently put the car in the top 10/12 as the car actually improves?

The same thing will happen to one if not both of Ricciardo and Vergne in a season or twos time as well.


Agreed. Jaime is a great driver. What the hell are red bull thinking? PLAIN DUMB.


Thinking long term about the A team. They don't see him as part of their future. Question I have, what do you have to do to ensure your Red Bull future in a Toro Rosso, win a grand prix from pole maybe. Maybe its not the career move the rosso's new boy's think it will be? Mind you, both their old drivers have had a few seasons!!!


I cant say I disagree with the decision but I do disagree with the timing. I think its shameful on Red Bull/Marko's part to sacked them in late december, when most seats for next year are already filled.

Reb Bull is looking for another star like Vettle and is willing to discard any young driver who dont meet their expection after a couple of years.

The problem is that without extensive F1 testing prior to their first year, no rookie will be able to enter F1 like Villeneuve/Hamilton/Vettel.

You cannot realistically expect a rookie to be properly prepared for F1 by spending hours in front of a simulator. It helps and its not real experience.


"...sacked them in late december, when most seats for next year are already filled"

Exactly why they did it that way. So the other teams would not have a chance to grab them up.

Though they are probably still under contract to RB, just not driving at the moment.


Don't really think that Buemi and Alguersuari can complain too much. They have had plenty of time and neither have of them have done anything outstanding. Decent drivers but dozens of others could do a similar job I think.

The only problem will be if Ricciardo and Vergne are closely matched then it will be difficult to judge them.

People have mentioned that Caterham should get rid of Trulli. However, I think he deserves to start another season at least because he is one of the greatest qualifiers in recent years. If Caterham can get the car into the middle teams then we could see the return of the Trulli train when he outqualifies the car!


Recent years? Kovaleinen outqualifies him time after time. I think it was 16-3 or 17-2 and normally not even within 0.3s.

Trulli has had his time, but Sutil, Alguersuari and Barrichello have all been outqualifying young team mates over the last few races, and it's very unlikely all of them will remain in the sport.


At the tender age of 21 your now considered old enough to bring in young blood!
Sheesh makes me feel old 🙂


"Thanks for all the fish", indeed...


Both the new guys show a lot of potential but you would think running two rookies will hurt Toro Rosso's development.

Alguersuari had a great season and it's a shame to see him booted. He's only 21! Hopefully he will be picked up as thrid driver somewhere and get a race seat for 2013.


I would have thought it a good idea to keep one of the 2011 drivers who have experience within the team and developing the car and who are up to racing speed, but I guess with Torro Rosso being the Red Bull B team they will develop the car through some shared technology agreement so it won't matter so much getting two young guns.

I would like to see Alguersuari in another seat for next year, but there isn't much spaces left, Williams? Even if he sits out for a year as a 3rd driver he is still only 21 with a lot of F1 experience, he is really good value to any midfield team for 2013.


Such a strange move. Especially with this quote:

“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 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.”

Webber has been slow as hell whole year long. Why not throw him out and replace him with Jaime? Put Buemi with Riccardio so that you have experience and new young blood? + a good teammate which can maybe pressure Vettel?


It would be interesting to see if Red Bull decided to replace one of their A team drivers, would they pick up their replacement from Toro Rosso? If not, and young drivers are continually replaced at will, and the result of being chucked out of Toro Rosso is the scrapheap, what is the point of the team?


Webber had no KERS for the first 7 races of the season, while Vettel's was working fine. Where would Webber have finished in the WDC if he'd taken 2nd in all those races?


Webber had a few KERS issues, but it wasn't missing for all the first 7 races. Plus Vettel had such issues too, at China and Spain.


Jaime is not faster than Webber, just because Webber is slower than Vettel doesnt mean he is one of the slower drivers in general.


Also guys dont forget the yr before all yr qualifying, webber was either beating vettel in qualifying or just being out by 100th of a second which you can attribute to him behing heavier (taller driver) , more scope with ballast etc. Webber is damn quick, the only issue this yr is that you can say Vettel adapted much better to the new tires and has been that much faster due to that adaptability in learning the new rules better!


Webber slow as hell all year long? He finished 3rd in the world championship ahead of Alonso and Hamilton. He only had one result outside 5th place all year (a DNF) - Jaime Alguersari would be able to do that at Red Bull?


He finished 3rd in the best car. How many point difference with him teammate in the same car? How much slower was his qualifying pace and race pace? I say its time to give a new kid a chance.


I think a lot of people underestimate Webbers input at Red Bull. As for slow, he did win the fastest laps award for 2011. Can't be that bad. Just needs to improve his quali laps as he has admitted. 2012 will be his final 'go' for the top


Yes he did win, because the team didn't allow Vettel to push at the end when the victory was safe already. Look at the difference in racepace and qualifying pace between Mark and Vettel. It is staggering. Time to give a young talent a change next to Vettel. Webbers time has come.


This does not surprise me at all....from the beginning TR was and is the clearing house for RB...they will continue to get rid of drivers until they find the next Vettel...many teams wish they could have a second team....or just a third car 🙂


Think STR's decision was especially harsh in Jaime's case. One tends to forget he's only 21. Hope he gets a ride, I think he deserves it. Perhaps at HRT.


I don't much care for that decision.


Neither Buemi nor Alguersuari seem the type to be too dramatic in public over this surprise.

It is indeed interesting that this announcement comes just days after Red Bull driver Mark Webber says he's very much interested in continuing on after 2012 in F-1.

Regardless, best of luck to both Sebastien and Jaime.


I think it’s a shame both have been dropped. Both where improving season after season, Buemi had some bad luck this season and feel he got unfair criticism, Alguersuari turned his season around. But I guess they wanted Vergne and Ricciardo in very quickly, but why do they have so many drivers in a similar age group? You are not going to find a driver that’s going to excel straightaway in these circumstances now with no testing, drivers need to grow, both of these drivers showed that. But I guess Ricciardo and Vergne are both highly rated.

What annoys me though, is how late this decision is, where are both of them meant to go? Their careers are effectively ruined at the age of 21 and 23, I am disappointed on how they have handled it, but then I don’t have the full info, so…

All I can say is, as a Buemi and Toro Rosso fan, I am gutted, disappointed.

Wish them both the best… Hope Buemi can find a seat elsewhere, think Alguersuari is safe for a seat at HRT.

Vergne and Ricciardo both seem promising, will their careers get ruined being pitted against each other? Shame for Buemi and Alguersuari, apart from Vettel, these two I would say have been the best to come out of the Toro Rosso team, especially Buemi who is consistent with occasional flashes. While Alguersuari, wasn't consistent but showed some flashes.


As a Frenchman living in Australia, this has got to be the perfect line up as far as I am concerned!

Pic, Grosjean, Vergne. When was the last time we had three of my compatriots on the grid? Sometime in the early 90s?

I heard on Peter Windsor's show The Flying Lap that Ferrari were pushing for Bianchi to get a seat somewhere on the grid.


Surprised they didn't keep one driver as a benchmark.


Not really comfortable with the statement "Scuderia Toro Rosso was established in 2005....providing a first step into Formula 1 for the youngsters in the Red Bull Junior Driver programme..."

There is no way a Formula 1 should allow this really. Next thing we know McLaren and Ferrari will start buying "feeder" teams and it will ruin F1.

It needs to change.

Saying that was never a fan or either driver. STR had a fast car in 2011 and I believe, with better drivers, would have provided better results.



Finally some sense from Red Bull, but somehow I still think Raikkonen will be in a Red Bull car in 2013 and it won't be a Toro Rosso car. 2/3 years is enough to show your talents so new blood is good for the sister team. Webber will move to Ferrari and partner Alonso in 2013 after winning the WDC in 2012, and Raikkonen will be in a Red Bull with Vettel in 2013, because besides being sponsored by Red Bull Raikkonen attitude and character suites the Red Bull brand....

You heard it from Speed Racer....


Gawd, I hope you're right.


wow, a shock and very valid point with the 'subtext' of this move, a PR move or real philosophy of STR good to see a team out there giving young drivers a chance in F1.

But there will be a lot of teams out there wanting to snap out the two outcast drivers, even a 3rd driver for RBR will mean little to either one of them if they believe in the subtext of the change.

Frank must already be on the phone to them as I type. if Ruben's time wasn't up before now, I think this will do it.

shock. but c'mon Ricciardo STR before replacing Webber at RBR whenever he chooses to retire himself.


Stoked to see another Aussie on the grid next year!


James am I right in thinking that Alguershari and his Spainish connections where bringing some money into the team?

Shame for him as he was increasingly impressive over the course of the year. Hope he does not jump into an HRT rather become a team's third driver. There is no shame in it and as others have shown (Massa, Alonso) can often lead to race seat for the following year.


Now that has come as a surprise, however when looking below the surface of it all, probably, in reality, RB management was going to have to make some hard decisions.

Both Buemi and Alguersari had their chance to stand out. Buemi really just floated without producing anything outstanding and Jamie seemed to pick up his game in the last part of this year. However I feel the damage had already been done.

On the other hand drivers ‘coming good’ only when their contract is coming to an end is also an annoying part of the game and one which I think doesn’t go un-noticed.

TR and the Red Bull young drivers programme main aim is to promote young drivers. Not to guarantee long term seats.

In this modern day F1, drivers need to perform all the time since it is clear there are many alternatives. With the information available to engineers and designers nowadays including simulators, long term driver/team relationships is not as important as it use to be(however driver feedback is still important)

Ricciardo definitely deserves his chance whilst Vergne gets a ‘free’ pass into a good team. Time will tell how both perform and at present, I would think the RBR second seat is Ricciardos to lose.

Lets not forget that TR have ended relationships with Speed, Bourdais and Liuzzi previously to fit JA and SB in so TR show that they are not there as ‘retirement drives’. Perform or move on. Drivers need to do something ‘stand out’ in their rookie season, but to me their second season is what makes or breaks them nowadays.(DiResta please note).

Whilst I may upset some people and even given Schumacher past success, I think F1 would be an even better show without him now as well as Reubens and Trulli going. Webber will need to beat Vettel (which I doubt very much even being a supporter to Webber) next year to keep any chance of a seat.

I hope Jamie gets a seat on the grid, maybe Williams or HRT. There is definitely an oversupply of drivers at present and most being non-paying, it can only be good for the sport and also to the paying public.

Bring on Melbourne, can’t wait, only 13 weeks to go!!!!!!!!!!


Doesn't Alguersuari bring some Spannish money with him? That would help with a Williams drive I'd hope. Do you know the team rated his feedback James? I'd heard (from 'the other side') that Sutil is quick but has low feedback skills.


We tend to forget the meaning behind this team. As stated it's a Red Bull development team and their main intention is to find capable drivers / personnel for the parent team. The current crop of drivers have been good but not exceptional like Vettel was during his stint there. Let's see what this new pairing brings.


You have to remember that Red Bull are ultimately a PR company promoting a slightly fizzy drink. They need constant headlines and unfortunately these young drivers have used up their PR capital - there are many talented youngsters to take their place for a few months / possibly a season.


And after all the incidents and issues where Mark got the short end of the stick (front wing, recurring clutch issues, weird race strategies etc) you would also think that Red Bull gave Ricciardo the seat not only because of his talent but to show Aussie fans that nationality has nothing to do with it... can you imagine the cluster---- of split loyalties in the team if Mark was Austrian? 😀


This is great news for Australia! Tough luck for Jamie and Seb, but to be honest Ricciardo has already shown how fast he can be.. that HRT was a dog! Ricciardo will also smoke This Eric banana kid, lookout Redbull you have your new Vettel! 😀


Ricciardo will be known as the smiling assassin 😉


What about " Dan the Man "


I prefer smiling assassin 😛 hoping though that doesnt mean he turns into schumacher and hits poeple out of races... 😉


Nah your talking about " The Chin " he was the best at it, last real era, wait a minute, that's " Dan the man" 2012 I hope !


Things change, and the inconvenience of Mark Webber not looking like he will walk away (nor should he) means that a smoother transition for the RB young talent was never going to be likely.

Alguersuari shouldn't have too much trouble finding a home and hopefully he will still retain some RB dollars to make that a possibility.

Buemi... I think he is done, for now.

Any word on the third driver for STR?


Congrats to Ricciardo, great to see him earn a seat.

Like many others, I do feel for JA as he did lift his performances for the second half of the year.

It will be interesting to see what race strategies that STR will use next year as they utilised fewer pit stops to some success. I am not sure if either of the new drivers could pull that off.


I'm going against the majority and saying the move makes sense. In the end, the only teams STR beat in the Constructors Championship are the three newbies and the nearly extinct Williams team. Even with Alguersuari staying on, an improving Caterham-Renault might beat STR in 2012 and shove them down to 9th best.

Red Bull cares more about finding the next megastar than developing talent. It is clear that Alguersuari, while a potential race winner in F1, is not the next Vettel. That's all that matters to Red Bull. Chew 'em up and spit 'em out. Move on the the next batch of hopefuls. That much was clear after Liuzzi, Speed and Bourdais were let go after two seasons or less.

Either Ricciardo or Vergne might be the next great driver, but probably not. Thing is, after 35 races or so, Red Bull will make up their mind on these two.

As a final thought, remember that the old Minardi incarnation of this team had a worse revolving door than STR. In a way, Buemi and Alguersuari were probably lucky to last as long as they did at STR.


I think that this is the major problem with young driver programmes. There is a lot of "wastage" in that there are only four seats in total throughout the grid and frankly, you wouldn't bet on Seb moving anywhere so there is only one at the top table.

I think in some sense the programme has failed more drivers than it has helped. With these two guys being dropped after doing a really good job for three years it is unlikely that their careers will move forward. The Torro Rosso team has only promoted one driver to Red Bull and all the others have had a much more difficult career after being dropped. Look at Liuzzi for example.

This is where the careers of Schumacher, Hamilton and Vettel have actually hurt the rest of the talent coming through. Even Alonso had to toil away at the back before moving into a midfield team, being beaten by Trulli in the first year if I remember. I can't see that kind of progress being acceptable now!


You make a great point, but miss the mark on Alonso's history. He was stellar in his first season with Minardi (precursor to STR ironically) simply blowing away teammate Tarso Marques and running far further up the field than a Minardi should have been.

After serving as third driver for Renault for one season, Alonso moved to a race seat and scored more points than Trulli, and earned 1 win, 2 poles, and 4 podiums to Trulli's no wins, no poles, and 1 podium.

Alonso showed his greatness within 20 starts, something neither Alguersuari or Buemi could do. Alonso did drive for a backmarker for his first season, but he still shined and then his move to Renault resulted in immediate results including a race win.

Yes, the careers of Schumacher, Hamilton and Vettel have hurt the rest of the talent coming through. I'd also add Alonso and Button to the list. But isn't that better? I'd rather have these 5 champions plus Raikkonen battling it out than a bunch of young up-and-comers.


"I’d rather have these 5 champions plus Raikkonen battling it out than a bunch of young up-and-comers."



I think it is a lame decision and they should have keep Alguersuari on with one of the new recruits. Just another reason to pay no attention to this team as they will just be near the back of the midfield then do something similar to the two new drivers.


Great news for Dan the Man and Aussie fans, I'm off to buy some Aus GP tickets & STR merchandise


Obviously they know something that we don't. Sad to hear Alguersuari is gone..


James,you think Dr.Mallya will snap up Jaime and give him friday roles and when Paul di Resta makes the move to the works Mercedes team,he'll team up with The Hulk in 2013? That'll be one to watch out for.


I think Bianchi is doing that role


Just read somewhere that Dr Mallya wants to stick to the 2011 line up for next year.What do you think of that news?


If the role of STR is to identify and nurture new talent one then cannot fault this move - however harsh it may seem. Neither Buemi nor Alguersauri are the next "big thing" - good, but not special - and they have been given a number of years to develop - but I fear not enough. Pity for them the decision came so late though ...


That is sad news to wake up to... I do not agree. Jaime came good. There is a good driver kicked to the curb. Good bye, please don't come again. I hate that sterile thank you for your contribution and we wish you luck for your future (which we effectively ruined now since we dumped you to late in the year to pick up your ooptions). Erg.


Is RB looking for next Vettel rather than Webber's replacement in case of losing Vettel to Ferrari after 2014?


Nice, another two younger drivers destroyed in the mighty quest of finding the next Vettel, the pile of corses is getting bigger, I wonder how many young drivers Marko will need to sacrifice till he get the next Vettel.

There is something wrong with F1, really wrong.



Does STR design their own car or do they partner with senior Red Bull team? It used to be like that in the past but I have not seen that for the last two seasons.

Thanks and happy festive season!


Mark Webber must have heaved a sigh of relief.

How on earth will Dan R or Vergne be good enough to step up to RB with just one year at STR?

He must be looking at staying to 2013, at least, now.


I think this is exciting the best two young drivers going head to head for webbers seat only time will tell if it was the right move by dr Marko but I agree Jamie and beumi have had there chance to prove themselves and haven't great to see this


Would have personally liked to have seen Jaime Alguersuari kept on at Toro Rosso with Daniel Ricciardo in the other race seat and Jean Eric Vergne as the reserve due to his lack of experience in an F1 car. That would have enabled Alguersuari or Ricciardo to step up to a Red Bull seat in 2013 with Vergne gaining a race seat at Toro Rosso.

Very excited to see Ricciardo in a more competitive car this year. I hope Alguersuari ends up in a better car than the HRT.


Thats a real shame, particularly in Jaimes case as I think he did really well over the period.

I can however kind of understand the reasons. The programme is basically heavily funded and the next big step has to be finding a replacement for Webber (whenever that may be).

If for some reason they have decided neither of those two drivers were showing enough progress its ultimately up to them.

I have an in principle objection to any one organisation owning two F1 teams. Just like in football, there is no way a conflict of interests of that magnitude should be allowed.

I had an interesting chat with someone recently about the sheer number of Redbull backed drives on the grid. It is stifling talent and actually stopping IMHO more talented drivers.

Wickens must be wondering what on earth he has to do (other than beating both TR drivers) to get a chance in F1.

Its a real shame that because of economonic factors teams further down the grid are having to think about money first and ability second.

At least Sauber picked drivers on ability despite funding challenges, and MVR and Lotus have one driver each who I consider to be there on sheer merit.


Fantastic. When Webber hangs up his hat(sad day), we can have Daniel take over and keep the Aussie flavour in RBR.


Go "Disco" Dan Ricciardo !


British 'based' workforce doesn't automatically mean it is entirely british though does it! Formula 1 teams are so international these days how do do you draw the line? What if the design engineer is English, Cfd tech is French and composite technician is Scottish?can't just play the anthem because they are based here! Plus the only reason they are based here must be because it suits them teams economically not because of pride or anything that naive


Reminds me of an old (somewhat slanderous) joke:

Hell is Where:

The British are the chefs

The Swiss are the lovers

The French are the mechanics

The Italians make everything run on time

And the Germans are the police

No mention of Scots, but I suppose we could add them in as 'musicians' or perhaps 'bankers'???

kk, just kidding folks!


Amazing. Every midfield team except Sauber are set to or already have dropped their best performing driver. Some have even dropped both their drivers. Renault have even dropped three. They are upto the kind of antics that we used to associate with backmarkers. If anything the backmarker teams have been more stable with their driver lineups. Somehow it all leaves a very bad taste.


This problem of fitting 4 or 5 driver options into 2 seats has been brewing all year for the ToroRosso squad! Was hoping for an Alguesari/Ricciardo pairing but as an Aussie I'm delighted to see Ricciardo in a more competitive car.

Cut your teeth Daniel, it's off to Red Bull you go in 2013!


Brilliant news for Australian fans, however I sense that there is a sense of panic at RB that they have lost Vettel for 2013. My hunch is Vettel going to Mercedes to replace Schumi.


Mercedes has a long way to go before they can convince Seb to go there. I mean why would he exchange the best car on the grid for a dog?


Helmut Marko: I'm tempted to say I don't like the man, he seems to usually be at the centre of controversial driver decisions/treatment, and has an uncomfortably close public relationship with Vettel, apparently to Webber's psychological detriment.

BUT, on the other hand, there is no doubting his ability to pick out absolutely top rate drivers, like Vettel, or unlike the Red Bull outcasts, who though very decent, were not likely IMO to ever scale the highest peaks. And fair enough, if that's what you set the team up for, you've got to be ruthless.

Still, feel bad for Alg and Buemi, deserve to be in the grid. Al's live by sword die by sword assessment is correct though IMO.


Dropping jaime in my view was a big mistake, if Toro Rosso is all about developing young drivers, then JAime is younger than the two new drivers and he's performances were very strong this season. He has a lot of potential that boy, i just hope some tem snaps him up so that he can continue racing in F1


I must say that after STR dropping their two drivers (especially JA) the fact that PDR, Schumi and possibly Barrichello are still driving stings even more. Its time these old guys let the young ones in. I mean come on. Surely having Jamie on the grid is better than De La Rosa?


People seem to forget that Alguersuari only picked up his pace after it looked like STR were going to fire him. Even in the last few races of the season he looked like he eased off because he thought he was safe.


JA, What has happened to all the other RB junior programme drivers over the years? Where are they now?

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