Horner: Button considered moving to Toro Rosso

Jenson Button considered switching to Toro Rosso at the end of 2008, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has revealed.

Ultimately, after Honda announced its shock departure from the sport, Ross Brawn led a management buy-out of the Brackley based team, and Button went onto become 2009 world champion.

But before the Brawn rescue deal materialised, Button’s management was scrambling for a seat.

“Last minute he got a deal but I remember his management were asking us whether even Toro Rosso had a drive,” Horner is quoted by the Daily Mail.

Horner made the comments whilst admitting Button, 33, has impressed him “enormously” since becoming champion and then switching to McLaren.

“The team went from Lewis (Hamilton)’s team pretty much exclusively … maybe the relationship (between McLaren and Hamilton) had run its course.

“What factor Jenson played in that, I have no idea.”

Tost: Red Bull still best in 2013

Red Bull is still F1’s top team, according to Franz Tost.

Austrian Tost is the boss of the energy drink company’s Italian based second F1 team, Toro Rosso.

Asked to ponder the 2013 pecking order following two of the three pre-season tests in Spain, Tost answered: “The teams are close together, but by and large, not much has changed.

“Red Bull Racing will be the measure of all things in 2013,” he said in an interview with Speed Week. “Hopefully Toro Rosso will make a significant step forward,” added Tost.

Source:GMM

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.

Source:GMM

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.”

Source:GMM

Anthony Felix da Costa pushing for Toro Rosso seat

Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa is knocking on the door at Toro Rosso.

That is the admission of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who like Daniel Ricciardo will race in formula one for the Red Bull-owned team for a second consecutive season in 2013. But, with Red Bull traditionally using Toro Rosso as a driver development team, undoubtedly next in line for a Faenza-made cockpit is da Costa.

The 21-year-old has been singled out as a potential champion in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 series. After that, the next logical step for Felix da Costa would be Toro Rosso.

“I’m not too worried,” Vergne is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace. “I am confident that I will have the performance. We definitely have a better car this year compared to last year, and also I’m a better driver, more experienced, and that combination automatically gives you better results.”

As for Felix da Costa’s likely candidature for a Toro Rosso seat in 2014, Vergne answered: “I see no problems with that. That’s how it works at Red Bull.

“I’ve been in the same position. Antonio is a good driver.

“If he keeps doing a good job, he deserves to be in F1 and, following the policy of Red Bull, if one of us – me or Daniel – is good enough to be in the first team (Red Bull Racing), that will leave a free seat at Toro Rosso,” he added.

Source:GMM

Key: Toro Rosso better than Sauber in some areas

James Key, Toro Rosso’s new technical boss, says the Faenza based team is “superior” to Sauber in some ways.

Briton Key moved to Red Bull’s second team late last year, replacing Giorgio Ascanelli.

He is quoted by Russia’s f1news.ru: “After Force India and Sauber, Toro Rosso is the third team I have worked with.

“On the one hand, they are all a bit alike, but as they are three teams from three different countries, they each have an unique culture. In Toro Rosso I have to solve some new problems compared to Sauber, but also the resources of this team (Toro Rosso) are much more, both human and technical.

“Toro Rosso is at a decent level, although in some areas it is inferior to those I have worked with before. I’m focusing on (those areas),” said Key.

He revealed he is “pleased” with the progress of the 2013 Toro Rosso, the STR8, which will be launched at the first Jerez test next week.

Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo confirmed: “We have changed some things with the team.

“I hope to get some more points this season and get into the fight with teams like Force India, Sauber and Williams,” he is quoted by Spain’s AS newspaper.

Toro Rosso finished the 2012 championship ninth.

Source:GMM

Aabar buys into Toro Rosso

Aabar, the Abu Dhabi state investment arm, may have withdrawn at Mercedes in order to buy into the Toro Rosso team.

It emerged this week that Aabar had sold back its 40 per cent stake in Mercedes’ works team. But Aabar continues to back Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s second formula one team, through its Spanish oil brand Cepsa.

And Germany’s Sport Auto reports that Aabar has now bought part of the Faenza based squad.

“The (percentage) number (of the stake) is between 49 to 61 per cent,” the magazine said.

Toro Rosso is yet to comment.

Source:GMM

Toro Rosso & Force India to change engines for 2014 season?

Toro Rosso will switch to Renault power for the start of F1’s new V6 engine era in 2014.

That is the claim of the authoritative German specialist publication Auto Motor und Sport, reporting that the Red Bull-owned team will end its long association with supplier Ferrari after the V8 era concludes late next year.

Red Bull Racing, the energy drink’s premier F1 team, is Renault’s ‘works’ partner, running major branding of Renault partner Nissan’s luxury arm Infiniti. And also according to Auto Motor und Sport, “there are rumours Force India will in 2014 change from Mercedes to Ferrari engines”.

The report by journalist Michael Schmidt said the Silverstone based team’s denials so far have “not been energetic enough to make you believe them”. Reportedly, the reason for Toro Rosso and Force India’s decisions could be price, with engine costs rising from about EUR 8 million at present to in some cases over EUR 20m in 2014.

But in Toro Rosso’s case, there is probably a more practical consideration, with parent team Red Bull then able to supply its Faenza based satellite with Renault-compatible gearboxes, KERS and hydraulics from 2014.

Source:GMM

Vergne: New deal shows team believes in my ability

Jean-Eric Vergne thinks his paymasters still believe he has what it takes to perform in F1.

The 22-year-old Frenchman’s debut season with the Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso has been mixed. On the one hand, he has out-scored his slightly more experienced teammate Daniel Ricciardo, but on the other he was ousted from the initial ‘Q1’ qualifying segment on no fewer than 8 occasions so far.

Still, Toro Rosso has signed him up for 2013.

“It gives me a good boost,” Vergne is quoted by France’s L’Equipe. “It also demonstrates that the team believes in my ability to become even stronger. That is what I feel at the end of this season; I feel I can do much better, and the team as well. I’m confident for next year.”

Team boss Franz Tost said it was “always” the intention to field Vergne alongside Ricciardo for at least two full seasons.

“It takes time to settle into Formula One, to get to know all the tracks, to get to know the whole team,” he told F1’s official website recently. “Remember, these are all very young guys who have to swallow a lot of new things in a very short time to even get started. That is why you have to give them two years.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner recently suggested Vergne and Ricciardo are still candidates to replace Mark Webber in 2014.

Vergne: “Anything can happen. But we are in 2012 and there is another full season with Toro Rosso ahead. I am not even thinking about 2014.”

Source:GMM

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.

Source:GMM