Exclusive Sebastien Buemi Q&A: Im better prepared for 2010 08 Feb 2010
The fact that Toro Rosso beat their senior team Red Bull to the test track at the opening Valencia session raised more than a few eyebrows up and down the pit lane last week. Whilst Red Bull focused on last-minute wind tunnel work with their RB6, the Faenza-based squad decided to test the new STR5 on the circuit. Driver Sebastien Buemi couldnt have agreed more with his teams hands-on approach and here he gives his verdict on his new car
Q: Sebastian, you are now past your time as a rookie and peoples expectations are bound to go up
Sebastian Buemi: I feel much better than last year, even if this year theres a lot less testing. I feel much more prepared, although that doesnt mean that I will do a better job. Its just that I feel better, that Ive learned my way around and feel familiar with the race weekend procedure and - most importantly - with all the tracks. Because of all that it should go better, but we have to wait and see!
Q: What do you still need to work on?
SB: Well, the cockpit hasnt changed a lot; we have just made sure that the vision is good and naturally you have to work on the seat. During the first couple of days there are always changes to be made because building and using a car are as different as two pairs of shoes.
Q: The cars longer now, does it feel any different?
SB: Theres no doubt that you feel it when youre driving. The tyres are not responding in the way I was used to, but it is too early to say if it is good or not.
Q: What conclusions have you drawn about the car, now that you have the first test under your belt?
SB: We are not the exception to all the other teams - after one test it is impossible to say where we are. But what I can say is that it was positive for us, we have gained a lot of data, and now we will sit down, analyze them and then try to implement our findings ahead of Jerez. But my guess is that the earliest pecking order will only be able to be established at the last test in Barcelona and well probably have to wait until Bahrain. So much depends on the fuel loads everybody is on. You can be quicker by three seconds and it might not mean a thing. And to be honest, the first test is never about lap times. We have a strict programme, so its not about showing-off what we can do.
Q: Have you already gone out with a full tank?
SB: You mean full, full? No.
Q: What about the narrower front tyres?
SB: My first impression is that there is a little less grip at the front, but to be honest we have to go back on the circuit and do some proper running to make a conclusion.
Q: Last year you were the rookie but now youre the teams most experienced driver. What kind of responsibility do you have>?
SB: Of course the team will listen to the comments that I give a bit more, but in reality I dont think too much about these things. I want to concentrate on racing. We ended the 09 season well with Jaime (Alguersuari) and myself both in the points and that is where we want to start this season.
Q: Are you happy that you could run your new car at the first test? Does it help?
SB: You have two possibilities to handle that - you can do it like Red Bull Racing and stay in the wind tunnel longer and have less testing, or you can go out on the track early and learn that way. For us - as a relatively new team - it was important to go out on the track as early as possible. We have a lot of new people in the team, as Franz (Tost) has explained to you earlier, so it was important to set the standard of how we all work together.
Q: This year Toro Rosso has to build the car all by itself now. As a driver, have you felt any difference?
SB: I would say its a good motivation for the whole team. Now we can do what we want, in a way that we want it and when we want it. We dont need to wait. On the other hand, its a bit difficult because Adrian (Newey) is no longer working for us. And there are less people working in the wind tunnel and CFD, which probably makes the development a bit slower. But we are motivated and have a good basis to build on.
Q: When did the team start to build the new car, and how much have you been involved?
SB: We started to look at the monocoque and the chassis in July/August last year, gave feedback about what works for us and it started from there. Its not a completely new car - it looks quite like last years one - but there will be an update for the first race. At the moment I can say that its not too bad. I am quite happy how things are going.
Q: During the pre-season tests, how much will you focus on the transition from a full to an empty tank?
SB: As we will start with a full tank it is important to know how the car behaves in that respect. Qualifying is good for us now as youll all be on similarly low fuel. Young drivers in the past suffered a bit with the transition from Q2 to Q3 in regards to the fuel load.
Q: You have been in the simulator whilst running in a car with a full fuel tank. How often have you done that already?
SB: We did a little bit, but I didnt get to do so much running in it, and in the end nothing compares to the reality of the track.
Q: The ban on refuelling means much longer stints on tyres. How do you feel about that?
SB: I dont think that this is so good for us. Our team was quite well organized on the strategy side, as we saw during the last two races of last season where I gained positions in the pits. This was an area where you could do a good job without having a lot of money.