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August 28th, 2011
Scuderia Toro Rosso will wait until the end of the season to decide on its 2012 driver line-up, with the outfit poised to give Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne some Friday outings this year ahead of a possible third driver role next season.
Although sister team Red Bull Racing’s decision to extend Mark Webber’s contract for next year has left Toro Rosso with the decision of choosing between Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Daniel Ricciardo for next year, team boss Franz Tost says he is happy to wait some more before deciding.
“Regarding next season, it is difficult to say something nowadays because we have to wait to the end of the season, and then it is a decision that is usually taken from the Red Bull side,” Tost told AUTOSPORT.
“So we will sit together and discuss the performance of the different drivers, and then the driver line-up will be decided for next year.
“Our current drivers are doing a good job. Buemi started very well into the season, he scored many points in the first races, but afterwards he was a little bit unlucky with some races where he could not score points.
“Alguersuari had some difficulties at the beginning of the season with the tyres, and could not use them in the proper way. But now, from Valencia onwards, he understands the tyres better and better and his performance is dramatically increasing fortunately.”
When asked about Ricciardo’s performance, Tost said: “Daniel Ricciardo is a highly skilled driver. He started running with us on a Friday morning for one and a half hours, and when he was together with us we were quite satisfied with his performance.
“He came up with a good technical feedback with the team, and he was quite positive on the marketing work. And also on the press side he does a good job.
“Now he is driving for HRT, which is quite important because he can do races, and there you can learn and increase the performance and the experience. So far I think what I can see from the outside is he is doing a good job.”
Tost said that the team was considering giving Vergne, who is fighting for the championship in Formula Renault 3.5, outings later this year on Friday mornings – but much would depend on how he performed in the final two events of his campaign.
“Jean-Eric first should finish the Renault season, where he is driving. Then, at the end of the season in the last race, there is maybe the possibility that he will go out for us on Friday mornings, like we did the beginning of the season with Ricciardo. But we finally have not decided this. We will see how it fits into the programme.”
When asked about the possibility of Vergne becoming Toro Rosso’s third driver in 2012, Tost said: “Could be, but first we must see how he will finish this year’s championship, in the World Series. Then we will see what Red Bull wants to do with him in 2012.”
AUTOSPORT understand that as well as the Toro Rosso outings later this year, Vergne is also set to drive for Red Bull Racing in the rookie test at Abu Dhabi.