18 July 2013
Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull Racing - Q&A
Crash.net talks to Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi about his role with the defending F1 champions
Sebastien Buemi has not raced in F1 since the end of 2011, but he is still heavily involved in the sport as first reserve and development driver for triple world champions, Red Bull Racing.
Dexter Fielding managed to speak to the former GP2 race winner in between hillclimb runs at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed as Crash.net profile the factory Toyota Sports Car drivers test driving role with the F1 champions.
How important is the testing and development driver role within a F1 team?
I think it is quite important, the F1 calendar is very big - there are 20 races this year, so it is not easy for the racing drivers' to continually test and use the simulators. It is hard to attend every event, so it is good for any team to have a reserve driver who is experienced and who the team can trust to do those kind of things. Not just in the car, but spending time in the simulators are also very important to improve the car.
Is it better for a team to have a test driver who previously raced in F1, or someone coming through the motorsport ranks?
To have someone who is previously experienced is better. Sometimes I get to test things and if you don't have experience, you can't really be sure of yourself, so you need to know what F1 is like before you commit to a testing role. It is a big plus to have someone who raced in F1 to be a test and reserve driver.
What advice would you give to anyone who is coming up through the ranks and is thinking about F1 test driver roles?
That is a tough question, because it is very difficult to get into F1. It always has been but now it is getting worse and worse to get a foot in. The best thing that I can say is do well in the feeder series and get in touch with F1 teams. In the past the F1 teams would have junior teams or nowadays academies in the lower formula's so it is very important to be a part of those teams otherwise it is very difficult to be able to get into F1. I don't think there is one clear way to get into F1, but if you can be linked to a F1 team early on in your career, then it is a big advantage.
What do you think next year's cars will be like to drive compared to the current machines?
From the driver's point of view, it will be a bit different because of the turbo engine. The way to drive the car will be a bit different, you'll have twice the torque in the cars than now and you currently use a lot of revs through the corners for the blowing exhaust, it could be opposite next year. It will be important to understand how the engine works by being in lower revs and being in the right torque range, then you need to work with the two KERS systems that you have, the new turbo engine and the current braking systems. It'll take a bit of time to work it out, but the cars will look different aerodynamically, with the wings and a smaller nose, so they are a few things that will change with the cars for next year.
How does it feel to drive a car designed by Adrian Newey?
Yes, it is an absolute privilege to drive a championship winning car, you can drive it really well on the limit and gain a good feeling from it. Newey and [Sebastian] Vettel are doing a great job and the car feels very special whenever I have the chance to drive it.
What personality and characteristics make for a good reserve and development driver?
You have to be in a racing drivers mode - you have to focus on your job, like a racer would do with his driving. If your day is in the simulator then you have to focus on that and the same at a corporate event, just being focussed and professional. You have got to be able to make the correct decisions and give good feedback, they are the most important things.
Will Red Bull and Vettel win the titles again this year?
I certainly hope so, that is out objective. Everyone from the engineers in the garage to the marketing team at head office want the team to win and be successful, willing them on. Vettel is doing a great job - it is a shame about Silverstone [where he had a mechanical problem and retired late on while leading], because he would be doing even better in the championship. We are currently leading the drivers' and constructors' tables, so everything looks good. You've got to keep in mind that F1 can change though. If you look a few races ago, Mercedes was on top and were winning and looking very good, but then had some problems, similar to Lotus and Ferrari. At the moment Red Bull is up there and even if you do not win, get the podiums and you even get big points for fourth now, so you have to be consistent, so that will make all the difference at the end of the championship.
by Dexter Fielding
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