Sebastien Buemi may have been a controversial choice to replace namesake Sebastian Vettel in the Scuderia Toro Rosso line-up for 2009, but the Swiss driver insists that he is satisfied with what he has achieved in his debut season.
Stepping into a seat that had won the Italian Grand Prix was always going to present a level of expectation for Buemi, who had failed to stand out in GP2 but came with the added support of Red Bull, but he began his season with a points finish in Australia and currently sits 17th overall - ahead of anticipated scorers Kazuki Nakajima and Nelson Piquet Jr, neither of whom had opened their account by the time the series reached its Abu Dhabi conclusion.
Although there was a mid-season lull after two top-eight finishes in his first three outings, Buemi was back among the points with seventh place last time out at Interlagos, and continues to be a surprise threat in qualifying, adding to the general level of satisfaction.
"For me, the most successful moment - and race - was actually the one in Brazil, as we had a very quick car and the qualifying was very good for us," he reflected, "The conditions were very difficult, as the rain was not easy to handle, as we could see with Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. I managed this quite well and to get into the top six was a very good moment.
"The beginning of the season was very good and satisfying, and then it got a bit difficult. We explain this with the fact that we are the last team that introduced the double diffuser. I have to admit that I did expect more to come out of this but, in the last couple of races, we had a very good package and we got into the points in Brazil.
"We have been very quick and competitive, like in Japan, so in general I am quite happy - and, if I can make it into the points here in Abu Dhabi, I will be even more satisfied. Of course, it can always be better, and we have been lucky that Red Bull managed to build such a good car, but it was difficult as the development phase for Toro Rosso was quite hard and we could not keep up so fast with the others.
"However, with my personal accomplishment, I am very satisfied. At the very beginning, I thought it would be much more difficult, as we have been quick and got into the points straight away. And then I thought that, with growing experience, it should get easier, but it went in the complete other direction. It got worse, and got much more complicated. Only in the last couple of races [has] it got better, as our car improved and, in Brazil and Japan, I was amongst the top ten and top six.
"In general, I have to say that F1 is not easy at all, and you have to be patient and concentrate very much on the matter. But I am having fun, and I am relaxed. Every new track that I am racing on gives me a lot of fun.
Expected to return with STR in 2010, although the team has yet to officially confirm what is anticipated to be an unchanged line-up of Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, the Swiss ace is now looking to build on what he has learned and accomplished in his debut year.
"Of course, [my goal is] to perform much better and to have learned from the mistakes that we have made this year," he confirmed, "My contract is not signed yet, as I have not received anything from the team, [but] in general I am very positive about this. I see more and more Swiss people at the race tracks that are following me, and this gives me a very satisfying feeling."