Exclusive Q&A with Toro Rossos Sebastien Buemi 30 Oct 2009
Last year Toro Rosso gave us Sebastian Vettel, this year its Sebastien Buemi. As he approaches the end of his first full season, the young Swiss driver looks back on it with a certain satisfaction - and with the hope that the team will call on his services again for 2010. This weekend, though, he is just looking forward to racing on a fantastic track that offers several Formula One firsts
Q: What are your first impressions on the new Yas Marina Circuit?
Sebastien Buemi: This track is a really good track. For us it was important to find a compromise with the aero package, as there are two long straights where you do not need much downforce, and also many slow corners, where you need a lot of downforce. At the beginning this meant a lot of work, as we had to evaluate what will be the best set-up for the car. Obviously we got it quite right. The car worked pretty well and I am really looking forward to qualifying.
Q: With which other track would you compare this circuit?
SB: One part of the track, with its long straights and in between them slow corners, I would compare with Monza, and the last part is like Singapore, where it is very narrow. But in general I would say that there is no other circuit with which you can compare this one, as it is moreover a combination of several tracks. And the tunnel situation is unique in itself - and very interesting to drive.
Q: Was the setting sun a problem for you as many anticipated?
SB: Contrary to what people believed it was no problem. In fact it was a nice feeling to start in daylight and go into the dark. There was a huge difference in the track between the first and second session as it was a lot quicker in the evening when it became cooler.
Q: How do you find the challenge of a completely new and demanding track at the very end of your first season?
SB: I am having fun, and I am relaxed. Its fun to race under these conditions, and hopefully we will not finish like we did in Singapore. Every new track that I am racing on gives me a lot of fun, but here even more so, as I dont have a disadvantage against the drivers that have been racing many times before on a circuit.
Q: Do you think that the tyres will play a big role here, as the temperature differences on the track might be very big?
SB: The temperature will be quite high, so we think that the medium tyres will work the best. Usually the soft tyres work the best in qualifying, but in general I do not think that we will have problems with tyre degradation. I also do not think that the temperature differences on the track during one lap will harm the tyres; we just need to watch the air pressure. And we have enough time to get the set-up right, as qualifying and the race are at the same time as todays second practice session.
Q: Looking back on your season, do you see all your goals being achieved?
SB: The beginning of the season was very good and satisfying, and then it got a bit difficult. We explain this with the fact that we are the last team that introduced the double diffuser. I have to admit that I did expect more to come out of this, but in the last couple of races we had a very good package and we got into the points in Brazil. Also we have been very quick and competitive, like in Japan. In general I am quite happy, and if I can make it into the points here in Abu Dhabi I will be even more satisfied. Of course it can always be better, and we have been lucky also that Red Bull managed to build such a good car. It was difficult though, as the development phase for Toro Rosso was quite hard and we could not keep up so fast with the others. With my personal accomplishment I am very satisfied.
Q: What was your experience of entering to Formula One racing - did you expect it to be more difficult, or was it easy in the end?
SB: At the very beginning I thought it would be much more difficult, as we have been quick and got into the points straight away. And then I thought that with growing experience it should get easier, but it went in the complete other direction. It got worse, and got much more complicated. Only in the last couple of races it got better, as our car improved and in Brazil and Japan I was amongst the top ten and top six. In general I have to say that Formula One is not easy at all, and you have to be patient and concentrate very much on the matter.
Q: What was your best Formula One moment so far? Was it the first race and being on the grid; or was it the first points?
SB: For me the most successful moment and race was actually the one in Brazil, as we had a very quick car and the qualifying was very good for us. The conditions were very difficult, as the rain was not easy to handle, as we could see with Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. I managed this quite well and to get into the top six was a very good moment.
Q: And what was your toughest moment so far?
SB: I think this was in Silverstone, where we started the race from P19 and you basically know that you will not be better then P18.
Q: What will your outlook be for next year then?
SB: Of course to perform much better and to have learned from the mistakes that we have made this year. My contract is not signed yet, as I have not received anything from the team as of yet. In general I am very positive about this, but I still have to wait.
Q: How is the popularity of Formula One racing in Switzerland, now that you are their only driver?
SB: The people love Formula One, and the audience and fan base is growing, especially with having a Swiss driver on the grid. I see more and more Swiss people at the race tracks that are following me, and this gives me a very satisfying feeling.