Despite the pair already being confirmed for 2011, Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari might do well to keep an eye out over their shoulders in the coming weeks, after Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost conceded that 'you never know what will happen in F1'.
The subtext behind Tost's veiled threat is that reigning World Series by Renault runner-up and last year's British F3 Champion Daniel Ricciardo's impressive outing for Red Bull Racing in the post-season young driver test in Abu Dhabi last week has set tongues wagging at Faenza.
The 21-year-old Australian is the best-placed of the energy drinks company's present young driver programme crop, and comfortably pacing the field on both days at Yas Marina behind the wheel of the double world championship-winning Red Bull RB6 can have done his chances of F1 employment in 2011 no harm at all. The current RBR test and reserve driver has admitted that he now feels as ready as he can be to graduate to the highest level [see separate story – click here
“We pushed [Enrique] Bernoldi, [Christian] Klien, [Vitantonio] Liuzzi and [Scott] Speed without a breakthrough,” mused Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko. “Daniel Ricciardo is the next top talent. A new [Sebastian] Vettel? I don't know.”
With the sport's newly-crowned, youngest-ever F1 World Champion Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber remaining firmly ensconced at Red Bull Racing, the most obvious opportunity for Ricciardo would be at 'junior' outfit Toro Rosso – a team that has gained a reputation within the paddock for having something of a revolving door or ejector seat policy when it comes to drivers. Whilst Tost has praised Alguersuari for improving 'step-by-step' during 2010 and being 'on the correct path', the Austrian was less effusive about Buemi's performance.
“At the beginning of the season he scored points and had a really good level of performance,” reflected the 54-year-old, a former racing driver himself, “but at the end of the season he struggled a bit. You never know what will happen in F1. Our main priority is building a successful car. Regarding drivers and continuity, we will see.”