Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has issued a veiled warning to his new driver pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne by reminding them that their performances behind the wheel will dictate the length of their relationship with the Faenza squad.
Speaking in the wake of the shock dumping of both Sebastien Buemi
and Jaime Alguersuari, Tost explained that STR's remit was as something of a finishing school for raw F1 talent and that, by necessity, meant that drivers would not remain on board for long. While it was hoped that they would be able to move on up the ladder, potentially to the sister Red Bull
Racing squad, occasionally drivers ran out of time and had to be dropped.
"In an ideal world, drivers would move from Scuderia Toro Rosso
to Red Bull
Racing, but there are no vacancies with our sister team right now," Tost explained, "It might be seen as a harsh decision, but F1 is a tough environment and Toro Rosso
has always been very clear about the principles behind its driver choice.
"Let's just say that it is their performance level in the car that is the deciding factor and, if they do a good job, this will help their cause in terms of how long they stay with us. Sebastien had been with us for three seasons and Jaime for two-and-a-half. Both of them worked hard for the team, doing their very best and achieving some good results, [but] Scuderia Toro Rosso's ethos has always been that of the 'rookie training school' and, with over two seasons under your belt, you are no longer a rookie."
Asked how quickly he felt his new charges would take to settle in, Tost admitted that he expected Ricciardo to be at home almost straight away.
"Given that he has some actual F1 racing experience, it would be natural for him to settle into the job more quickly," the Austrian confirmed, "However, Jean-Eric has shown he learns rapidly, so I expect him to be on the pace quite soon. It will be important for the team to ensure we give them as many kilometres as possible in winter testing.
"Although we know our two new drivers quite well, it also means they can already start working with the engineers, assimilating information and even having some input into minor details regarding the new car. It also means I can be sure they are taking their winter fitness training very seriously!"
Being Red Bull's 'junior' operation naturally means that Toro Rosso
is limited to using drivers being raised on the company's development ladder, but Tost insists that it is not handicapped by that.
"It's not frustrating, in fact quite the opposite," he stressed, "It is a very interesting experience for everyone in the team to work with young drivers and it means you can educate them the way you want. Everyone, from the race engineers to the communications people can try and give the new drivers good habits, which they can use for the rest of their career."