The busy off-season started straight-away in Formula 1 with testing two days after the finale race in Abu Dhabi. Soon thereafter, driver announcements were made, and we have two of them — according to Formula 1 announcements released on Friday, November 28, Toro Rosso has filled its seats for 2015, and Susie Wolff has been announced as an official test driver for Williams.
Driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2015 will be a pair of young rookies. Jean-Eric Vergne announced via Twitter last week that he was leaving the team, and on Friday the team revealed it had signed 20-year-old Carlos Sainz Junior for the seat.
According to Formula 1, Sainz Junior, like his new teammate, Max Verstappen, was a member of the Red Bull Young Driver Program. With Verstappen at only age 17, both drivers’ ages together are approximately six years younger than two-time World Champion, Fernando Alonso at 33, who exited Ferrari at the end of the 2014 season.
Sainz Junior, a Spanish driver, said about the important step in his career: “I am really happy to have landed the drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso. Ever since I have been part of Red Bull’s Young Driver Program, this has been my aim and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their faith in me. I have had a very successful season in World Series by Renault this year and now I am looking forward to taking the step up to Formula One.”
He continued his remarks by sharing his opinion of the team and what he looked forward to in the immediate future, “I tested for a day with Toro Rosso last year and I liked the atmosphere in the team. In the next few months I will be working hard on my preparation, ready to get in the cockpit in Jerez for the first test of next year. It will be nice to make my ‘official’ debut as a Formula One driver in my home country!”
About the appointment, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost commented on the obvious youth that will now be present on the team, “With Carlos Sainz joining Max Verstappen in our driver line-up next year, we continue the Toro Rosso tradition of providing youngsters from the Red Bull Junior Driver Program with their first steps in Formula One.”
Sainz Junior is the son of double world rally champion Carlos Sainz. He started his single-seater career in Formula BMW, then moving up through Formula Renault 2.0, British Formula 3 and GP3. Sainz Junior tested in Abu Dhabi last week with Red Bull.
It was also announced on Friday that Susie Wolff would be the official test driver for the Williams team in 2015. According to Formula 1, Wolff was the first female in 20 years last year to take part in a Grand Prix event when she drove for Williams in free practice 1 at both Britain and Germany.
Wolff, 31, will be part of “extensive simulator testing” in the development of the 2015 and 2016 cars. She will also drive the Mercedes-powered FW37 in two FP1 sessions during 2015, as well as at two test days.
About her new position, Wolff commented, “This is another step in the right direction for me. I am delighted Williams are recognizing my progression, hard work and that it is performance that counts.”
She commented about the team, as well. “Williams is at a very exciting stage in its history and we are moving into 2015 with fantastic momentum, I’m proud to be part of the team. I’ll be using my position to work closely with Felipe (Massa)and Valtteri (Bottas) to make sure that the FW37 builds on the strong performance shown by the FW36.”
Williams deputy team principle, Claire Williams, remarked, “We have a very strong and stable driver line-up for 2015 and this will be a key asset as we look to build on a positive 2014 season.”
Seats still do remain open on the Formula 1 team roster for 2015. Most notably, perhaps, a decision is yet to be announced by McLaren on who drive for the team. The team is expected to make that announcement early in December.