Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi will remain on-board at Red Bull 'junior' outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2011, Franz Tost has confirmed – quashing all speculation about the latter possibly ending up alongside Robert Kubica at Renault next year in the wake of Eric Boullier's admission that the Swiss ace had 'a special place' on his shopping list [see separate story – click here
Buemi will be entering his third campaign with the small Faenza-based operation, whilst Alguersuari joined midway through last year, and both have caught the eye on occasion in F1 2010, the former notably for his superb performance in Montreal and the latter for a brace of spirited duels with record-breaking multiple world champion Michael Schumacher in a much faster Mercedes. Team principal Tost explains that it was a no-brainer to keep both on.
“Our drivers still lack F1 experience compared to the majority of their colleagues,” the Austrian acknowledged of what is by some margin the youngest line-up on the current grand prix grid, with a combined age of just 41 – the same as Schumacher alone. “Therefore, as they get more track time with every race, I expect to see an improvement in the final half of the season.
“This is particularly relevant to Alguersuari, because from Hungary onwards he will be able to rely on the knowledge he picked up after making his debut there in 2009, knowing all the remaining tracks with the exception of Korea. It is not just a case of their driving getting better, though, because it is also true that their understanding and engineering feedback improves, which is vital if we are to get the most out of our package.
“I believe our drivers will be well-prepared for 2011, which is why they are both confirmed for next year. It is also logical, because one key role of Scuderia Toro Rosso is to bring on young drivers from the Red Bull Young Driver programme and at the ages of 21 and 20 respectively, both Seb and Jaime certainly still meet the right criteria.”
Buemi comfortably leads the way in terms of qualifying this season nine-one, and has also out-scored his Spanish team-mate – who last summer became the youngest driver ever to compete at the highest level – by seven points to three, though arguably it is the Barcelona native who has been the more impressive in battle.
Those results place STR ninth out of the twelve teams in the constructors' table at the midway stage – with only the three newcomers behind them and nearest adversary Sauber five markers ahead – and whilst conceding that budget is a necessary restriction, Tost is well aware that improvements need to be made 'in every area' if the squad is to successfully replicate its form from previous campaigns by picking up over the second half and achieving its stated target of eighth place in the final standings.
“We are working very hard towards achieving this goal, even if our closest rivals at Williams and Sauber are doing a good job,” asserted the 54-year-old. “Therefore, it will not be easy and unless all aspects of a team's performance are operating properly, the results will not come.
“In terms of the car itself, we are introducing some updates over these next two races, starting with a new front wing at Hockenheim, then a new diffuser in Hungary. Other updates are in the pipeline, and I am convinced that car performance will improve, starting next weekend.