STR signs Ricciardo and Vergne for 2012
14 December 2011 – Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne will race for Toro Rosso in 2012, forming an all-new driver line-up. The Italian team announced its decision on Wednesday, leaving Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi without Formula 1 seats.
"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," said team boss Franz Tost. "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."
Ricciardo makes the switch from relative newcomers HRT F1, having replaced Narain Karthikeyan from the British Grand Prix onwards this year. The Australian competed in Formula Renault 3.5 at the same time, picking up one victory and five second place finishes.
"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," said Ricciardo. "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. I have to say that joining Toro Rosso was always my real goal, so a big thank you to Red Bull for giving me this fantastic opportunity. Now I can't wait to get to work once testing begins."
Vergne also competed in Formula Renault 3.5 this season, finishing runner-up to Canada's Robert Wickens after a final race clash. Crucially, the Frenchman has also driven F1 machinery in 2011, having taken part in three practice session for Toro Rosso before joining World Champions Red Bull for the Abu Dhabi Young Driver test in November.
"First of all, I must thank Red Bull for all of their support so far and for believing that I am ready to take on the ultimate challenge of racing in Formula 1," Vergne, who was born in Pontoise, commented. "Christmas has come early for me this year!
"Having driven for them a few times and also testing for Red Bull, 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 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."
Tost concluded by thanking now former drivers Alguersuari and Buemi, but reiterated that the whole ethos of Toro Rosso is to keep bringing young talent into the sport.