12/14/2011 10:11:09 AM
For the first time since its debut in F1 competition in 2006, Toro Rosso will
begin a season with an all-new driver lineup. Ricciardo and Vergne have come
through Red Bull's junior driver program, and the decision to promote both
drivers was taken by the team in conjunction with Red Bull.
"I am pleased that 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," team principal Franz Tost said in a statement.
"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
"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."
Ricciardo drove for Hispania Racing Team in the final 11 grand prix in 2011.
Prior to his arrival at HRT, the 22-year-old Australian drove for Toro Rosso
during Friday's first free practice session at races in the early part of this
year. Ricciardo won the Formula Renault 2.0 championship in 2008 and then
captured the title in the British Formula 3 series the following year.
"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," he said. "To be honest, I am still jumping up and down with
excitement at the news."
Vergne, a 21-year-old Frenchman, assumed driving duties for Toro Rosso in free
practice for three of the last four grand prix this year. He won the 2010
British Formula 3 championship and finished second in this year's Renault 3.5
"Christmas has come early for me this year," Vergne said. "Having driven for
them a few times this year and also testing for Red Bull Racing in Abu Dhabi,
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
The 2012 F1 season begins on March 18 in Melbourne, Australia.