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Red Bull Prospects

The Winter Season is starting to heat up finally with the driver merry go round in full swing. This week we have seen the announcement of Jean-Eric Vergne, the third French driver in Formula 1 2012, and Daniel Ricciardo being signed for the Toro Rosso team.

When I first read this it came as a bit of a surprise. Throughout 2011, Jaime Alguersuari has performed exceptionally well for such a young man, still the tender of age 21, yet is moved out of his race seat. Jaime joined the sport when he was just 19 years old. To take on that kind of challenge is extremely demanding and he is just starting to show his true potential.

Sebastian Buemi on the other hand, I can understand this decision. He is slightly older than his counterpart and was meant to be the ‘team leader’ but it never progressed. Buemi has looked quick on occasion but flattered to deceive.

Daniel Ricciardo

Toro Rosso then came out and commented on how they were “a place for rookies”. In other words they are the Red Bull driver development team. This leads me to question why they took this decision in the first place. Seemingly they are more comfortable with Mark Webber’s speed than what they believe both Alguersuari and Buemi could challenge Vettel with. A reliable source of mine also put forward the idea of; could Mark Webber have taken an optional further year on his contract that caught Red Bull by surprise? We all question what Red Bull’s real tactics were at the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of 2011. Webber looked rather disgruntled on the podium considering he had just won his first race of the year.

Seemingly, Red Bull has decided to end their relationship with Alguersuari and Buemi and recruit in two new “hot” prospects for 2012 onwards. Jean-Eric Vergne is the World Series by Renault 3.5 runner-up, and Daniel Ricciardo is a highly tipped Australian backed by Red Bull that has completed an 11-race stint in the HRT team where he convincingly beat veteran Vitantonio Liuzzi. The young driver test results are extremely hard to read. We do not know what setups, components or fuel levels teams were running, but both drivers appeared to make strong names for themselves. Vergne being part of the Red Bull young driver programme has certainly helped as he was beaten by Canadian, Robert Wickens in World Series by Renault 2011 season. Wickens I think is an even stronger prospect than Vergne but he will have to do it the hard way if he is to make it to the top.

I have concern to see that Franz Tost (Toro Rosso Team Principal) regard themselves as “a place for rookies”. It shows that they will always and forever play second fiddle to Red Bull and have no other aspirations than getting the job done and providing the daddy team with a couple of prospects. Brings in to question if the Red Bull driver programme is really working? Vettel, currently, is the only one to have made any sort of impact or impression. Granted he has done it in the most spectacular way. Are we set for a one hit wonder with the Red Bull driver development programme?

I personally do not want that in Formula 1. I would rather see that team bought out, drop to the back of the field, design their own car from scratch and start again. If we are to get every car competitive then we cannot employ the ethos of feeder teams. It is not a positive; we use GP2, GP3, F2 and World Series by Renault for that. There should be no room at the pinnacle of Motorsport for mere ‘feeder’ teams.

It will be fantastic to see both drivers in 2012 and see if either of them are cable of taking the Red Bull number two seat of Mark Webber. With what is currently on offer and available to them, they need to grasp it with both hands and let the on track action do the talking.

Can more than one Red Bull wing fly?

Follow me on Twitter: @Nico888

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