Daniel Ricciardo, the young Australian who impressed for Red Bull in the young driver test at Abu Dhabi earlier this month, will be Scuderia Toro Rosso’s third and reserve driver for the 2011 Formula 1 season.
The 21-year-old, who topped the timesheets on both days of the young-driver test, will drive in the Friday morning practice sessions at every grand prix next year, replacing race drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi at alternate events.
Ricciardo is a product of the Red Bull young driver programme. He came second in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, and won the 2009 British Formula 3 championship.
Franz Tost, the Toro Rosso team principal, explained why Ricciardo had been chosen, and what it means for Alguersuari and Buemi:
“When our team was created, its stated aim was to bring on young drivers from the Red Bull Junior Programme, so Daniel’s appointment as our third driver is an obvious one,” Tost said. “Although Daniel has done some F1 testing already, running on Fridays at the Grands Prix will give him a valuable insight into the additional pressures of doing it for real during a race weekend.
“I am also sure that having a hungry youngster on the books will keep our current driver pairing nice and sharp!”
Ricciardo is obviously very pleased to extend his F1 experience, but said that he has still got some unfinished business in the lower series. “I am really excited at the prospect of driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso in the Free Practice 1 sessions at the Grands Prix next year, so I have to say thanks to Red Bull for this great opportunity,” he said. “My main priority for 2011 is to win the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, but my ultimate aim is to be a full-time Formula 1 driver and this new role has to be the best step towards achieving that ambition.”