Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost says there is no rush to decide Daniel Ricciardo’s successor.
The 24-year-old was confirmed as Red Bull’s new driver for 2014 yesterday.
“We will now look at all our options and make a decision at a later date, as there is no immediate need to rush,” said Tost.
Tost offered his congratulations to his outgoing driver: “We would have liked to keep him, because he is a talented driver who has done a great job with Scuderia Toro Rosso.”
“At the same time, we are very pleased to see him make this move, which means he will follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Vettel.”
Tost said Ricciardo’s move “vindicates” Red Bull’s decision to employ Toro Rosso as a proving ground for upcoming drivers:
“When Dietrich Mateschitz acquired the team that became Toro Rosso, his stated aim was that it should be the final step in the training of young drivers, with the eventual goal of graduating to the ‘senior’ team. Daniel’s move thus vindicates the work of the Red Bull Young Driver Programme and also proves that we at Toro Rosso have given him a good racing education.”
Among the leading candidates for Ricciardo’s seat are Formula Renault 3.5 driver Antonio Felix da Costa and GP3 racer Carlos Sainz Jnr, both of which are on Red Bull’s junior driver programme.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.