Scuderia Toro Rosso will have a completely new driver line-up for the 2012 Formula 1 season, made up of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. It will be the first time since the team’s 2006 debut that it will begin the year with an all new line-up. Both drivers have come through the Red Bull Junior Driver programme and the decision to promote Daniel and Jean-Eric to Scuderia Toro Rosso was taken by the team in conjunction with Red Bull.
Franz Tost: “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. 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.”
Twenty two year old Ricciardo, from Perth, Australia has already experienced life in F1, firstly by driving for Toro Rosso during Friday’s first free practice session at Grands Prix in the early part of 2011, before driving full time for Hispania Racing in the second half of the year. In 2008 he won the Formula Renault 2.0 Championship and the following year, he won the British Formula 3 series. In 2010, Dan finished runner up in the Renault 3.5 series, combining his racing with reserve driver duties for both Red Bull F1 teams.
Daniel Ricciardo: “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. In the second half of 2011 I learned a lot from the people I worked with, racing in eleven Grands Prix and I want to thank them for the opportunity they gave me. I have to say that joining Scuderia Toro Rosso was always my real goal, so a big thank you to Red Bull for giving me this fantastic opportunity and now I can’t wait to get to work once testing begins.”
Frenchman Vergne has already worked with Scuderia Toro Rosso, most recently, driving in Free Practice 1 at three of the last four Grands Prix of the 2011 season. The twenty one year old Frenchman followed in his new team-mate’s footsteps, winning the 2010 British Formula 3 Championship and coming second in this year’s Renault 3.5 series.
Jean-Eric Vergne: “First of all, 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 1. Christmas has come early for me this year! 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 real. Sitting on the grid in Melbourne next March cannot come soon enough.”
Born, 1 July 1989, Perth, Australia
A native of Perth, Red Bull junior Daniel made a name for himself when his racing career bought him to Europe. After a year learning the ropes in Formula Renault Italy, he made his big breakthrough in 2008, winning the Formula Renault West European Cup. From 15 races, Daniel took nine pole positions and eight victories on his way to the title. For 2009 Daniel moved up a class to race in the British Formula 3 Championship and quickly proved that his Formula Renault form wasn’t a flash in the pan. In a spectacular season, the young gun notched seven wins, six pole positions and 13 podium finishes in total, as well as the small detail of wrapping up the title with two rounds to go.
His F3 success earned him a berth at the end-of-season F1 test for rookies and again Daniel didn’t disappoint, leaving the Jerez shoot-out with far and away the best times, after driving for our sister team Red Bull Racing. His consistent pace and intelligent feedback in those tests earned him the ‘super-sub’ role as test and reserve driver for Scuderia Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing in 2010, while he also found time to take the silver medal position in the Renault 3.5 Championship.
In a career full of big steps, the biggest came in 2011: the Australian was given the job of replacing each of our two race drivers in turn during Fridays Free Practice 1 sessions at the Grands Prix, so the man from Perth was now a regular in the F1 paddock. It got even more serious just after the mid-season: starting from the British Grand Prix he got a full time drive with the Hispania Racing Team, which definitely boosted his experience level. Could 2011 get any better? Answer yes, because a couple of weeks after the end of the season, Daniel was confirmed as a full time race driver for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2012. “It feels like coming home,” said Ricciardo about returning to the Faenza team on a full time basis.
2005 Western Australia Formula Ford Championship
2006 Formula BMW Asia – 3rd
2007 Formula Renault 2 litre Italy – 6th
2008 Formula Renault 2.0 WEC – 1st
2009 British Formula 3 Championship – 1st
2010 Formula Renault 3.5 Series – 2nd
Formula 1 – Toro Rosso test driver
2011 Formula 1 – Scuderia Toro Rosso – Friday practice driver then full time F1 drive with Hispania Racing from the British GP to the end of the season.
2012 Formula 1 driver Scuderia Toro Rosso
Born 25 April 1990, Pontoise, France
When Jean-Eric’s dad first took him karting at age four, it started a lifelong love of the sport that has ended up taking the young Frenchman all the way to F1. In karting, he was French Rotax Max runner-up, second in the European ICA championship and seventh in the world championship, which brought him to the attention of the FFSA (France’s motor sport governing body.) With their backing he moved into single-seaters winning the French Formula Campus championship in 2007.
Coming under Red Bull’s wing, Jean-Eric won rookie honours in both the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the West European Cup (WEC) in 2008, finishing on the podium four times. He was back for more in both Formulae in 2009 finishing on the top step in Eurocup four times and winning five in the WEC, to finish runner-up overall.For 2010, he moved into the British Formula 3 Championship and just like his 2012 team-mate, he took the title. In 2011, he followed up taking the silver medal position in the Renault 3.5 championship by running in Friday’s Free Practice 1 at three of the last four Grands Prix of the Formula 1 season.
2000-2006 Karting – 2004 France Junior Championship: 2nd
2005 European Championship – 2nd
2006 France Elite Championship – 2nd
2007 French Formula Campus – 1st
2008 French Formula Renault – 1st
2009 European Formula Renault – 2nd
2010 British Formula 3 – first test drives with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso
2011 Formula Renault 3.5 WSR – second Friday practice driver for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 3 grands prix
2012 Formula 1 with Scuderia Toro Rosso