Toro Rosso teammates Vergne & Ricciardo no longer friends

Jean-Eric Vergne says he is no longer friends with his Toro Rosso teammate.

Until they were paired together at the second Red Bull team, Frenchman Vergne and Australian Daniel Ricciardo were friends. They had been signed to the energy drink company’s notoriously tough driver development programme on the same day, thereafter working together in Formula Renault. But now in the high-stakes world of F1, and fighting for a place at the world championship team, the friendship has ended.

“I don’t know if it’s because we are in F1 or he (Ricciardo) thinks he has definitely beaten me that we cannot have any relationship, but, no, we don’t see each other away from the track and we are not friends,” Vergne is quoted by the Melbourne newspaper The Age. Vergne insisted, however, that their working relationship is intact.

“I don’t care about going on holiday with my teammate. I have my friends and I don’t need any more,” he added.

Ricciardo, who is almost a year older than Vergne, confirmed that the close friendship of the past is over.

“We’ve never come to blows or anything like that,” he said. “There’s never been a moment which has separated the friendship — it’s just grown apart with competition. I imagine we’re probably like most other teammates. I think it’s how it should be.

“I think when you’re a direct rival with someone, you want to have your own space.

“I think it would be sort of hard to have a true friendship because, at the end of the day, we’re fighting for maybe one spot and there can’t be any conservative approach about it,” added 23-year-old Ricciardo.


Ricciardo: Race win not impossible for Toro Rosso

According to Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso could win a race in the 2013 F1 season.

Speaking to Spain’s AS newspaper, the Australian recalled his Toro Rosso test debut prior to the 2012 season. Now, Ricciardo insists, the feeling about the new STR8 is “more positive”.

“I think our goal should be to become the best team after the big fight, so (competing with) Williams, Force India, Sauber. For me it’s to be in the points regularly and if possible get some podiums.”

23-year-old Ricciardo was also asked about Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, who had reportedly told former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari to secure his place in F1 by winning a race.

“Er, no, he hasn’t said anything like that to me,” Ricciardo smiled. “Last year, our car was not competitive enough, but we’ll see what we can do this time.

“It’s not easy of course, but maybe with rain – thinking about what Vettel managed (at Monza in 2008) – then it’s not impossible to win with Toro Rosso.”

AS correspondent Manuel Franco asked Ricciardo if Vettel’s success with the team in 2008 is like a weight around the neck of Toro Rosso’s subsequent drivers.

“No I don’t think so,” he answered, “I think it’s really a motivation for us, to show us what is possible.”

As for whether he might succeed his countryman Mark Webber at Red Bull’s main team in 2014, Ricciardo said: “What I have to do is have a good year and then let’s see.

“I know what I have to focus on right now.”


Toro Rosso keeps same drivers for 2013

Toro Rosso is sticking with its current drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, for the 2013 season.

Australian Ricciardo, and 22-year-old Frenchman Vergne who is a year younger, moved into the Faenza based team’s race seats when Toro Rosso ousted Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi at the end of last season.

“Both drivers have done a good job this season,” said team boss Franz Tost.

Toro Rosso usually selects its drivers from team owner Red Bull’s junior programme. In 2012, the youngsters are Carlos Sainz Jr, Russian Daniil Kvyat, Alex Albon, Callan O’Keeffe, German Stefan Wackerbauer and Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa.


Ricciardo: Points help quest to keep F1 seat

Daniel Ricciardo is confident he will stay in Formula One if he keeps good results coming in 2012.

The rookie 23-year-old’s ninth place in Singapore was his third such foray into the points since debuting for Toro Rosso in his native Australia in March. The Red Bull-owned team ousted its race drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari at the end of last season.

Asked if scoring points in Singapore helps his chances of staying on the grid for 2013, Ricciardo answered: “Yeah, it doesn’t hurt.

“Put it this way,” he told the Melbourne Age newspaper. “If I can keep a few more of these results coming, I think so. It’s definitely on the right path to secure a seat.”


Key could arrive at Toro Rosso in September

Daniel Ricciardo has hinted Giorgio Ascanelli’s successor at Toro Rosso could be announced imminently.

With technical director Ascanelli absent and officially on “holiday” during the most recent German and Hungarian grands prix, we reported on July 21 that his role could be permanently filled by former Sauber man and 40-year-old Briton James Key.

“(I don’t know) Whether it’s something that will get resolved over the break,” Australian news agency AAP quotes Toro Rosso driver Ricciardo as saying.

“Maybe it (Ascanelli’s departure) came at a good time and some time off and everyone can rethink. Maybe it will be good and, come to Spa, maybe everything will be normal again — or there could be some changes,” added Ricciardo.

Writing in Germany’s Speed Week, Peter Hesseler suggested Key could start his new job at Toro Rosso on 1 September.

Auto Motor und Sport suggests Ascanelli split with Toro Rosso following disagreements about team strategy and the development direction of the car.
After ousting its established drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari last year, Toro Rosso has scored just 6 points so far in 2012 with newcomers Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

“Are the drivers too inexperienced, or is the car bad?” wondered Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.”

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, the architect of Toro Rosso’s new lineup, exonerated the drivers.

“If it rains, they are quick,” said the Austrian. “This shows that they are on it. The engineers went in the wrong direction with the development of the exhaust.”


Ricciardo not surprised to miss Red Bull seat

Daniel Ricciardo did not interpret Red Bull’s decision to keep Mark Webber in 2013 as a door slammed in his face.

Now the cream of the energy drink company’s driver development programme, Australian Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were signed to Toro Rosso this year and regarded as candidates to graduate to the main team in 2013. But on much improved form in the first half of this year, Ricciardo’s countryman Webber has secured a new contract for next season. The 23-year-old insists he is not disappointed.

“Not in a negative way, but I never thought it would happen, at least for next season,” Ricciardo told the West Australian newspaper. “I knew there was a lot to be done. But I had 20 races to get through this year and to prove that I could be something extraordinary to take that seat.”

Scoring a meagre 6 points so far, Toro Rosso has had a tough 2012 season after ousting former drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari at the end of last year. Still, Ricciardo thinks he has done enough to at least keep the seat for 2013.

“I don’t think they’re searching for someone to replace me yet, unless the season goes pretty poorly from here. But if I continue what I’m doing or even improve a bit – that would be nice – I estimate I would stay here.”


Ricciardo expects to stay with Toro Rosso next season

The stream of F1 news may be running thin as the sport races into its August slumber and factory shutdowns, but the roar of V8 engines has continued this week. Daniel Ricciardo is in action over two days, as Toro Rosso completes some testing for filming purposes at Imola, the former San Marino grand prix which is located a stone’s throw from the team’s Faenza base.

Italy’s Autosprint said the event is not open to the public.

“The summer break begins when we’re done,” Australian Ricciardo told the German website

He insisted he feels he doesn’t need a holiday.

“It wouldn’t bother me if we were on the way to another grand prix,” said Ricciardo, who made his debut last year with HRT.

The 22-year-old admitted he expects to stay at Toro Rosso in 2013.

“I’d say so, unless the next few races go very badly,” Ricciardo smiled. “Qualifying has been okay for me, the races a bit more up and down, but if I can knock out a few good races and stay strong in qualifying, I think honestly I’ve done everything I can do.”