Vergne and Ricciardo

Many eyebrows were raised when Red Bull jumped from sponsoring existing F1 teams to buying its own 2005, but then the energy-drink giant surprised the pundits again by buying an unprecedented second team in 2006. So why'd they do it? To give the aspiring talents, which the outfit nurtures through its extensive young driver development program, a leg up into the pinnacle of motorsport.

That's what has prompted Scuderia Toro Rosso to change its drivers from time to time, but it usually does so one driver at a time. But the upcoming season marks a drastic change for the team, which has just dumped its current drivers in favor of an entirely fresh line-up.

In the place of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, STR will be fielding newcomers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne for the 2012 championship. Both are known entities among Toro Rosso's engineers, having tested for the team previously: Ricciardo as the team's official back-up driver, and Vergne as the team's nominee for the Abu Dhabi young driver test this season.

Australia's Ricciardo also drove eleven races this season for HRT, and both he and France's Vergne are former champions of the British Formula Three series. As for Alguersuari and Buemi, well, they both drove admirably these past few seasons, but with months still to go before the start of the new season, hopefully they'll find drives elsewhere.