Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will drive for Toro Rosso in 2012
The duo replace the 2011 pairing of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari
Team Lotus officially change their name to Caterham F1 on Wednesday
Hispania Racing Team announce the departure of team principle Colin Kolles
Toro Rosso have announced an all-new driver pairing for the 2012 Formula One season with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne replacing Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.
Both new signings are part of the junior driver program at Toro Rosso’s owner and fellow constructor Red Bull, and both featured in practice sessions for their new team during 2011.
Australian Ricciardo also drove for Hispania Racing (HRT) in the second half of last season. The 22-year-old said he was delighted to secure his future in the sport.
“To be honest, I am still jumping up and down with excitement at the news,” he told Toro Rosso’s official website. “I can’t wait to get to work once testing begins.
“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.”
Like Ricciardo, Vergne, from France, is a former winner of the British Formula 3 Championship. The 20-year-old said he was determined to repay the faith his team had shown in him.
“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.”
Team principal Franz Tost defended the decision to replace Buemi and Alguersuari, saying his new duo had long been primed for their debut seasons with the team.
“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.
“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.”
Elsewhere, Team Lotus officially changed their name to Caterham F1 on Wednesday, with team principal Tony Fernandes eyeing improvements in the 2012 Formula One season.
The UK-based outfit’s name change officially ends the dispute over the use of the Lotus name in F1, with Renault set to race as Lotus next year.
The marque have finished 10th out of 12 teams in each of the two seasons they have competed in since entering the sport in 2010, but are yet to score a world championship point.
“The race team must improve and be a true showcase for our group of businesses,” Fernandes said in a team press release.
“Yes, being in F1 implies that you are already ahead of the pack. However, ultimately we want to be leading that pack. It’s not going to happen overnight, but if we set realistic targets, then it’s something we will achieve.”
Elsewhere, Hispania Racing (HRT) announced the departure of team principal Colin Kolles after two seasons with the team.
The Romanian joined the Spanish outfit for their F1 debut in 2010, but has seen the team fail to register a point in the either of the last two seasons.