Daniel Ricciardo will become just the fourth local driver to take the grid at next year’s Australian Grand Prix, with the news that the Perth-born driver has been signed at Toro Rosso for the 2012 season.
His signing means that it will be the first time ever that there will be two Australians on the grid in front of their home fans, with Ricciardo set to compete against Mark Webber for local fans’ affections next March.
Having two Australian drivers on the grid next year will be great news for the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, as it begins to ramp up its ticket sales campaign with less than 100 days to go until it kicks off the 2012 championship season.
“It has been an exciting six months for Daniel, he debuted for the Hispania Racing Team at the 2011 British Grand Prix and raced the remainder of the season gaining invaluable experience with 11 race starts,” said AGPC chairman Andrew Westacott.
“We are absolutely delighted to see his hard work and talent rewarded with a permanent team position next season and are excited to watch him line up on the Albert Park grid when the 2012 season commences in Melbourne in March.”
Ricciardo is understandably thrilled at the news that he will remain in Formula 1, after an impressive half-year with the back-of-the-grid HRT F1 outfit.
“This is a really big deal for me and something I have wanted ever since I was driving for Toro Rosso on Friday mornings at the races in the first part of last season,” the 21-year-old said.
“To be honest, I am still jumping up and down with excitement at the news. In the second half of 2011 I learned a lot from the people I worked with, racing in eleven Grands Prix and I want to thank them for the opportunity they gave me.
“I have to say that joining Scuderia Toro Rosso was always my real goal, so a big thank you to Red Bull for giving me this fantastic opportunity and now I can’t wait to get to work once testing begins.”
Fans looking to travel to Melbourne for next year’s race can purchase tickets via the Australian Grand Prix website.
[Original image via Zimbio]