Season review: Toro Rosso


Constructors’ Championship: 9th
Points: 26


Jean-Éric Vergne
Points: 16
Best qualifying: 11th
Best race result: 8th

Daniel Ricciardo
Points: 10
Best qualifying: 6th
Best race result: 9th


  • An astonishing qualifying performance by Ricciardo in Bahrain that left him sixth on the grid. The race didn’t start quite so well as by the end of the first lap he was 16th.
  • Ricciardo holding Schumacher back in Japan to take 10th.

With the firing of 2011 drivers Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari the pressure was on for both Jean-Éric and Daniel to perform this year.

Ricciardo had impressed in his half season at HRT in 2011 and many people touted Vergne as the ‘next big thing’. Trevor Carlin once told me that he “could be the next Vettel”. It certainly didn’t seem that way on Saturdays in 2012. The Frenchman had various wild moments in the races, but it was in qualifying that he really struggled. The season started badly in terms of Saturday pace, but it could be forgiven considering the limited mileage he had under his belt. However, come Monza and he was still struggling with one-lap pace. The following race, in Japan, he not only got out-qualified by his team-mate again (they ended the season 16-4), but he held up Bruno Senna and got a three-place grid penalty.

Ricciardo, on the other hand, faired better on Saturdays and had some strong races (as did Vergne). The burning question is whether or not Toro Rosso made the right move when it unceremoniously dumped Alguersuari and Buemi.

Team principal Franz Tost has made it clear that the team is a training ground for young drivers, much like Sauber, and neither of the 2011 drivers showed that they had what it took to sit alongside the likes of Vettel (let’s be honest here – Toro Rosso team-mates are in a straight fight for a seat at Red Bull). As for the two this year? Tost has said that he “made the right decision” on the driver changes, but he isn’t going to say anything else is he?

Both Ricciardo and Vergne have showed flashes of brilliance and they do warrant another season to prove that they have something special. Come this time next year, though, and they’ll need to have Red Bull knocking on their door or you can bet that they will be moved on for the likes of António Félix da Costa. It’s been done before…

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