Exclusive Sebastien Buemi Q&A: I am hungry for points 21 Feb 2011
Team principal Franz Tost openly admits that Toro Rosso's raison dêtre is shaping rookies into drivers fit enough for sister squad Red Bull Racing. And as Sebastien Buemi prepares for his third season at Toro Rosso, he has plenty of youngsters from Red Bulls young driver programme breathing down his neck, eager to make it into the sport. Its clear that for Buemi this is a make-or-break year, but the 22 year-old isnt letting the pressure get to him. He knows that with new rules, new tyres and a new car at his disposal, the playing field had been significantly levelled - and he is determined to make the most of it
Q: Sebastien, you are heading into a make-or-break season. What is the team expecting from you and what do you expect from yourself?
Sebastien Buemi: I know that everybody thinks this will be an important season, but for me I dont think that it will be more important than any other season. It is my third season now with Toro Rosso and clearly we want to make a step forward. We expect a lot so lets wait and see what we are able to achieve. It is always difficult to say what it will be like before you go to the first race. To read anything into the test times is always like reading a crystal ball, but this year its even more difficult with four different compounds of tyres. You never really know what the others are up to. We are really aiming to end up ahead of one of the other teams that were in front of us last season - P7 in the constructors championship would be our objective.
Q: Should things not quite develop that way will you still be with Toro Rosso next season?
SB: It is much too early to say what will happen. Obviously Red Bull - and myself - want to see results and improvements. If it does not happen we have to sit down and think what we have to do to change that. Right now we have to concentrate on the job ahead of us. Obviously you cannot judge the performance of someone only on the actual results - you need to compare it to his team mate and compare it to the speed of the car. If, for example, in the past you were sitting in a Minardi and qualifying 3.5 seconds from pole position it meant a really good time, so you cannot expect people to win if the car is not good enough. Red Bull on the other hand is really good in that respect because they look into the details of the performance and from there they will make a decision on the future of a driver. Lets wait and see. I am pushing as hard as I can and I am prepared as well as possible, so lets wait for the season to start.
Q: Toro Rosso is a team which nurtures talent, transforming them from rookies into winners. Jaime Alguersuari predicted that he will join Red Bull Racing soon - where do you see yourself?
SB: I dont want to speak too much about the future. If you are driving for Toro Rosso you are aiming for good results and then one day to jump into the Red Bull, but my objective is to do a really good job for Toro Rosso and then we see what will happen.
Q: How competitive is it between you and your team mate, knowing that one of you could make the transition to Red Bull?
SB: Again, it is too early to say what will happen next year. Mark (Webber) had a fantastic season last year and he might do even better this year, so it is not clear if there is a cockpit available at RBR. I am concentrating on my job at Toro Rosso and concentrating on being in front of my team mate and to make the car better - in terms of reliability - and then we will concentrate on performance. It doesnt make sense to wonder about what will happen if I do this or that. Just concentrate on the job - thats it!
Q: Team Principal Franz Tost is known to be a very outspoken man to his rookies. How do you cope with that?
SB: I think in this business it is really important to be with a very straightforward person who says what he thinks. We have no time to waste and it doesnt make sense to be given compliments if they dont reflect the reality. It is better to say exactly what you think and go forward from there. I really like that Franz is like this as he brings us forward.
Q: At the two previous tests the STR6 was clearly in the midfield - and occasionally above. Is that the teams potential?
SB: We hope we will keep this situation. But dont forget, the big teams bring big updates when they arrive at the first race and there is always a huge difference between what you see at the last test and what you see on the first race weekend, so we have to be careful. Last year in the tests we were looking quite good but then we somehow slowed down a bit with the development. But I dont want to think about slowing down right now. We have a good update plan for the car and I truly hope that we will be able to keep up with what weve reached so far. The car feels really good at the moment. But it would be wrong to compare it with last year. Last year we were two to three seconds faster and somehow because of this it doesnt feel like last year. Last years car felt a lot quicker, just because we were a lot quicker. So it is difficult to say that this car is better. Obviously you are slower, but you judge your car compared to the other ones. If you lose three seconds but everybody lost four seconds, you did a good job. If you lose three seconds and the others lose only one and a half, you did a bad job. Thats why you can only judge your car compared to others. With the fuel loads and the four Pirelli compounds you can never say what your gain or loss is, so forget trying to read the crystal ball.
Q: For guys a bit further down the grid, the ability to overtake is crucial. How do you see the season playing out in this respect?
SB: What weve seen so far is that the Pirelli tyres have some degradation. Degradation means a big difference in lap times so I expect that if you have new tyres and the guy in front of you has old tyres that you will be able to overtake him pretty easily. The style of races which we probably will see this year is what we saw in Montreal last season - and Montreal was quite an interesting race.
Q: What do you make of the tyres?
SB: What we have seen from the guys who were doing race simulation is that they carry out between three and four stops, which we never saw last year. We only saw one stop, a maximum of two stops, and sometimes people just stopped on the last lap because they had to use the other tyre. We saw three stops in Montreal and that could become a reality at many tracks this year. In that way strategy and how good a pit crew is will add to the result. If you have a pit crew that can do a stop one second faster and then you multiply it by four stops you have a gain of four seconds. Thats a lot.
Q: What is your goal for 2011?
SB: I definitely dont want to go below last year. I at least want to be as good as last year. I want to be a regular points scorer. I am really hungry for points. I didnt have enough last season!
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.