/ Motorsport

Torro Rosso confirm new driver line-up

Updated: Wednesday, 14 Dec 2011 17:17

(L-R) Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne
(L-R) Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne

Toro Rosso have surprisingly cleared their decks ahead of the 2012 Formula One season by booting out Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.

For the first time since the team's 2006 debut, Toro Rosso will start a campaign with an all-new line-up of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne - both products of the Red Bull Junior Driver programme.

After wielding the axe, team principal Franz Tost said: "I am pleased we have been able to reach an early decision on our drivers for next year because it means we can all give our full attention to 2012 without any distractions.

"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 One car (in Friday testing).

"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."

Attempting to explain away his shock decision, Tost added: "One has to remember when Toro Rosso was established in 2005, it was done so with the intention of providing a first step into Formula One 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."

The onus will particularly be on Ricciardo, who competed in 11 races over the second half of last season for Hispania Racing after the Spanish team dispensed with the services of Narain Karthikeyan.

The 22-year-old Australian said: "This is a really big deal for me and something I have wanted ever since I was driving for Toro Rosso on Friday mornings at the races in the first part of last season.

"To be honest, I am still jumping up and down with excitement at the news. I can't wait to get to work once testing begins."

Vergne, who joins fellow Frenchmen Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Charles Pic (Marussia) on the grid next season, admitted Christmas had come early for him this year.

The 21-year-old said: "I must thank Red Bull for all their support so far and for believing I am ready to take on the ultimate challenge of racing in Formula One.

"Having driven for them a few times this year and also testing for Red Bull Racing in Abu Dhabi (young driver test), I definitely feel ready to make the move, even if I know there is a big difference between testing and actually racing.

"I enjoyed working with the guys at Toro Rosso this year and I can't wait to be part of the team for real.

"Sitting on the grid in Melbourne next March cannot come soon enough."

Swiss Buemi competed in 55 grands prix over three seasons for Toro Rosso, but the 23-year-old managed only 15 points and 15th place in the drivers' standings last season.

Spaniard Alguersuari, meanwhile, drove in 46 races, and was just one place and 11 points better off than Buemi over the course of this year.

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