Toro Rosso have announced that Red Bull’s latest wonderkid, Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, will be their third driver in 2011. He will contest first practice at every race on the calendar, alternately replacing Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.

The announcement comes in the wake of Ricciardo’s superb performance at the recent young driver test and amidst mounting speculation that he would replace Buemi at the team for 2011. That possibility has now been put to bed, but with Daniel contesting FP1 the pressure is very much on both the 22-year-old Swiss racer and his team-mate Alguersuari.

Credit: Red Bull Media.

It’s recently come to light that both Toro Rosso drivers are only secure in their drives until mid-way through 2011. At that point they’ll be assessed and either have their contracts ended or be given a fresh deal. The presence of Ricciardo will ramp the pressure up a notch for both men.

Badger fully expects one of the two to get the boot and be replaced by the new kid on the block at some point next year – unless of course both manage to produce Vettel-like displays in the STR car. That’s unlikely, if we’re honest, and by mid-2011 each will have had two years – in Buemi’s case two and a half – of F1 experience. If they haven’t cut the mustard by then they’ll likely be asked to move on.

So who will it be? Who should it be? And why should it be? Hey, maybe you think both deserve to keep their seats. Let us know in the comments section below.

What they said.

Team Boss Franz Tost: “When our team was created, its stated aim was to bring on young drivers from the Red Bull Junior Programme, so Daniel’s appointment as our third driver is an obvious one. Although Daniel has done some F1 testing already, running on Fridays at the Grands Prix will give him a valuable insight into the additional pressures of doing it for real during a race weekend. I am also sure that having a hungry youngster on the books will keep our current driver pairing nice and sharp!”

Daniel Ricciardo: “I am really excited at the prospect of driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso in the Free Practice 1 sessions at the Grands Prix next year, so I have to say thanks to Red Bull for this great opportunity. My main priority for 2011 is to win the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, but my ultimate aim is to be a full-time Formula 1 driver and this new role has to be the best step towards achieving that ambition.”