Exclusive interview with Red Bull's Sebastien Buemi 16 Dec 2008
Sebastien Buemi dominated last weeks test at Jerez, clinching the fastest time on all three days for Toro Rosso. It was a stellar performance, which could help secure Buemi one of the teams empty cockpits for next season. This week hes back testing for Red Bull at the Spanish track, and on Monday he managed to maintain his stranglehold on the top of the timesheets, despite swapping the STR3 for the RB4. We caught up with the 20 year-old to find out about his recent testing form and discover how he rates his chances of landing a 2009 race drive
Q: You had a fantastic test last week, clocking the fastest time on all three days. Could your performance in Jerez be the ticket to a 2009 Toro Rosso cockpit?
Sebastien Buemi: For sure, it was not a bad test. It was really good for me to be at the top of the list, especially in front of my team mates or, to be precise, in front of the two other contenders for a cockpit. So I was very satisfied and hopefully theyll make a positive decision for me in the near future. I am quite confident at the moment as I did all I could. All I can do now is wait. But as long as there isn't a decision, I don't want to think about it too much.
Q: How did it feel to beat Takuma Sato and Sebastien Bourdais in the timesheets? Both have significantly more Formula One experience than you
SB: For sure that felt good. But I have gained a lot of experience in the last month - especially in Barcelona and in Jerez. I think just like the other guys, so why should I be slower than them. Now I am getting used to the car and that shows. In the end, I have to prove to myself that I can do it, and now I know that I can beat them. It is a confidence boost.
Q: Toro Rosso also performed well last week, outpacing some of the biggest names in Formula One racing. Why was that?
SB: That is always difficult to know, as you never know what the others are doing in terms of fuel and programme. And next year there will be big changes in the regulations and some of the teams were already running with their 2009-spec parts. And we probably had a bit of an advantage with the settings we had on the car. But in the end, you don't look at the other lap times. You only look at how you perform and we have been very satisfied.
Q: So apart from the slick tyres, you were running a 2008 car
SB: Yes, we were running the 2008 car with the slick tyres - but with less downforce, while I guess the others were running with more 09 parts. We were basically concentrating on the times within the team, so it was more of a drivers test.
Q: This week you are back as a Red Bull Racing test driver running in the RB4. How does it differ to the STR3?
SB: Theres not much difference to be honest. It is basically just working with other people. At Toro Rosso it is with Italians, and now with Red Bull it is with English people.
Q: When will you know whether youll be a Toro Rosso driver or a Red Bull tester in 2009?
SB: The team still has time to choose. For sure I hope the decision will be made soon. It would be good to know before Christmas, but I am not in a hurry. I feel very confident based on my test results, so Ill await the team's decision.
Q: With Toro Rosso now completely owned by Red Bull, how do you see your role and that of the team? Could it mean that if you earn your stripes at Toro Rosso, you are automatically promoted to Red Bull Racing?
SB: First of all it means one boss. It means you only speak with one person in terms of your contract and things like that. I don't think that it will change a lot otherwise. In terms of the status of the team, I see that Toro Rosso will be the fully-fledged junior team of Red Bull Racing. And hopefully, when I do a good job, why not go on to the A-Team. That is a nice objective. But before that scenario can work out, I have to get the cockpit. And that is what I am concentrating on right now.
Q: Mark Webbers accident has given you a unique opportunity to get a lot of test mileage under your belt. How important is that for your development?
SB: The days when you are able to drive an F1 car really matter. I was only supposed to drive for one day, but now I am in for another two days because of Mark's accident. And that means I am gaining two more days in the cockpit and that is important. Especially because I will be driving alongside Sebastian Vettel on day two and three of this test, and that promises to be a good lesson for me. I am convinced that it will make me better. At the moment I feel that I am improving day by day, getting used to the car, getting used to the tyres - and getting used to Formula One. I am really thankful to Red Bull for giving me that opportunity and Ill do my best not to disappoint them.
Q: While you are waiting for the team to decide your future, what are your plans?
SB: I will go back to Switzerland for the holidays, and after that I will go to Austria for a fitness test at the Red Bull centre.