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


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.


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?


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


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.


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?


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!


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.


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!


Go “Disco” Dan Ricciardo !


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


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.


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.


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


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.



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!


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.


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


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.


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 …


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?


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


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


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.


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.”


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