Record-breaking multiple World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb has acknowledged that there is a possibility he might make his grand prix debut in the 2009 Abu Dhabi F1 finale – but he is adamant that if he does so, for the time being at least it will be very much a one-off outing.
It was rumoured earlier this month that the Frenchman was perhaps being lined up by Scuderia Toro Rosso to replace compatriot Sébastien Bourdais at the small Faenza-based concern, and though reigning British F3 Champion Jaime Alguersuari has stepped in to fill the breach in the initial instance – set to make his grand prix bow as the youngest debutant in the top flight's official 60-year history in Hungary this weekend – speculation persists that Loeb could yet similarly join the grid before the current season is out.
His employers Citroën have affirmed that they recognise 'how important it is for him (Loeb) to try his hand at different activities as a driver' and that as such they will not stand in the way of the 35-year-old should STR come calling – provided
it is outside of the WRC campaign [see separate story – click here
]. The inaugural race around the Yas Marina Circuit is due to take place a week on from Wales Rally GB, the final event on the 2009 WRC calendar.
Whilst insisting that his 2010 plans involve rallying 'and not Formula 1', the 52-time rally-winner has admitted that a competitive appearance in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – one that would build upon the testing runs he conducted for Red Bull Racing at Silverstone and in Barcelona late last year, lapping an impressive eighth-quickest out of the 17 drivers present on the latter occasion and impressing the energy drinks-backed outfit with both his raw pace and feedback – is not entirely out of the question. The Alsacien had previously also tried out for Renault in a car swap with Heikki Kovalainen just under a year previously.
“If I do Abu Dhabi, and at the moment nothing is done for this, it would be too late in the season for me to change my mind for next year,” he told British newspaper the Daily Telegraph
. “I'm sure [by then] I will have signed for Citroën next year and I would have already begun testing for the WRC.
“I am keen to sign a contract with Citroën, and that is the only negotiation that I am having at the moment. It would be a pleasure to drive in Formula 1, but I don't know if I am able to do that or not.”