Sebastien Buemi: it will be special, strange, it will be everything 20 Mar 2009
Sebastien Buemi was carefully groomed for this moment: next weekend the young Swiss - 2009s only rookie - must show his true colours when he makes his Grand Prix debut in Melbourne. The man whose shoes he must fill - Sebastian Vettel - raised the bar significantly for a Toro Rosso driver. Buemi is not unimpressed by his namesakes results with the team, but exudes a certain self confidence that lets a repeat seem possible. Speaking exclusively to Formula1.com, he discusses his hopes for the coming campaign
Q: Sebastian, youve only had one pre-season test with the new STR4 and the first day of that was overshadowed by problems. What happened?
Sebastian Buemi: My team mate Sebastien (Bourdais) was supposed to do the full first day, but as we had some issues with the car - problems with the front suspension - the team decided that I also should do some installation laps to make sure that the (driving) position was fine and the visibility in the car was good, so that we could start day two with a full programme.
Q: When it was your turn in the car you managed to do two full race distances in one day - thats tough going
SB: Yeah, after 146 laps you know what youve done. But the fact that I was able to do it without any problems is already good news, as it gives an indication that the reliability is promising. Now all depends on the right set-up to get the car to a point where we know that on Friday in Melbourne we just have to work on the final nuances that this specific track demands.
Q: Over the winter the team let you do a lot of mileage in the 2008 car, so how do the STR3 and STR4 compare?
SB: It is hard to compare because due to the new regulations the STR4 follows a completely different philosophy. What I can say about the STR4 is that the team have put a lot of effort into this car - it seems fast and competitive, even in comparison with the old car - and that was bl**dy good. The driving with the 09 car feels different, for sure. But then again it is only a Formula One car and the only demand for the driver is to go fast.
Q: Driving the old car while everybody else was already testing their 09 machines meant you were frequently top of the times sheets. Now, with the STR4, this is no more
SB: For sure, it was an adrenalin rush the first time. But then you realize pretty fast that it is the old car and that it doesnt count. For sure, it helped my self confidence and to get used to a Formula One car in the fastest possible way. Now with the 09 car it is too early to say where we are and whether it can develop into something like the STR3, but I know that we are all working very hard to eventually make it happen. We have a pretty good idea after last weeks test of how we can make the STR4 faster.
Q: The late arrival of the car will mean that the Fridays at the first few races will be crucial days for you and the team
SB: That doesnt go only for me. I would say that Fridays will become the crucial days for everybody. In one way probably more for me, that is true, as I also have to learn some tracks that are new to me. We have to have a good plan to know exactly whether how the car behaves is because of the track or if it is because of me. In one word: we have to be really clever.
Q: What expectations do you take to Melbourne - as the only rookie of the season heading for his first Grand Prix?
SB: I dont have any expectations. I want to finish the race. Thats my focus. Saying that scoring points wouldnt be fantastic would be a lie, but it is not my main objective. I want to understand a lot about the car. And in the past Melbourne has always been a race with many accidents and casualties, so to finish the race is already a good point.
Q: How did you spend the days between the final test and flying out for your big adventure?
SB: I was at the factory to make sure that I and everybody else understood what weve been testing and learn from that - and otherwise do the same preparation that I did over the winter.
Q: Boarding the plane to Melbourne with a pounding heart?
SB: For sure. It will be special and it will be strange - it will be everything!