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Toro Rosso retains squad for 2013

607   //    01 Nov 2012, 22:22 IST

Scuderia Toro Rosso has made its decision to retain the current squad of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne for the 2013 season. It’s not a surprise after all, as the poor string of performances came along since the beginning of the season. At least they would have understood that, despite having skillful drivers, the car should be competitive enough to fight in the midfield.

The sister team of Red Bull has arguably had their best campaign in 2011, scoring twice as much points as in the prior two seasons. Both its drivers, Alguersuari and Buemi, drove their heart out in every single race like there was no tomorrow. There was little to choose between them until the very end, although both faced a lot of bad luck.

It was clear that only one of them would be retained to pair up Ricciardo the following season, but Dr. Evil, Helmut Marko, who largely influenced Vettel’s career and played a part in bringing Montoya into F1, had other plans. He ousted both the drivers to make way for the current line-up.

He argued that Toro Rosso was a school to nurture young talents and time ran out on them. So bitter it was, Alguersuari once admitted that Lotus team had inquired about him but since he’d a word agreement to stay put with STR, he let that chance go by. For 2012 then, Buemi took the reserve role with Red Bull while Jaime acted as a Pirelli test driver.

Before the season started, Ricciardo had already debuted in 2011 for HRT back in Britain and continued till the season’s end with the Spanish outfit, whereas Vergne was high on confidence after winning the F3 title. Ricciardo impressed in his home race as he brought home a couple of  points followed by Vergne’s eighth place finish in the wet Malaysian race.

Since then, disaster struck as they battled hard to make it into Q2 with JEV being the usual casualty to be left out with the bottom six. They had to wait until Spa for a double points finish and repeated that feat later in Korea. It’s evident that the Faenza-based team has found some pace since the Asian flyaway races, but it’s a little too late to take the fight back to the competitive mid-pack teams.

The charismatic Aussie was quoted saying: “I am really pumped to know that I am continuing with Scuderia Toro Rosso for another season and want to thank the team and Red Bull,” he said. “There are big expectations for next year and I’m ready and willing to fulfil them.

“I feel I have been growing and developing as a driver and my approach to the technical side of the sport has also progressed this year, so I am sure that will serve me well in my second season with Toro Rosso. We have had quite a tough season, but despite that, I have always enjoyed a good relationship with all the guys and I am delighted at the idea of working with them for another year.”

The Frenchman, Vergne, has enjoyed mixed fortunes in his debut F1 season and finished as high as eight thrice in Malaysia, Korea and Belgium respectively and has a three point advantage over his team-mate. Speaking on the occasion, “I am really happy about this great news,” said the 22 year-old. “Thank you Toro Rosso and thank you Red Bull, who have backed me since the early days of my career. It has been a difficult season and, as a rookie, I have learned a lot, thanks to the support I got and the excellent relationship I have enjoyed with all the guys.

“I feel much stronger now and I know I have become a better driver over the course of the season. I really believe in this team and with all the experience I have gained, combined with the team’s ambitious plans for next year, I think we can look forward to great things in 2013, attacking all the way.”

Equally delighted team principal Franz Tost quipped: “Both drivers have done a good job this season. Daniel joined us with a few Grands Prix under his belt and so his feedback and experience was particularly useful while Jean-Eric got up to speed, often having to deal with tracks he had never seen before.

“Since the summer break, both drivers have scored more points and everyone in the team has been impressed with their maturity in terms of working with the engineers and their racecraft on track. We will be doing our best in the next few months to produce a 2013 car which will allow them to demonstrate their talent.”

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