Despite entering the 2010 Formula One season as the nominal leader of the least experienced line-up so far announced, Sebastien Buemi insists that he is focused purely on racing and not the responsibility of guiding Scuderia Toro Rosso in its first year as a constructor.
The Swiss driver made his top flight debut nearly a year ago and, despite the scepticism of some observers, acquitted himself solidly. Having out-gunned erstwhile team-mate Sebastien Bourdais, Buemi found himself paired with another Red Bull academy graduate in Jaime Alguersuari who, with no testing allowed before his first race, was even deeper in the deep end than he himself was.
Although there was some speculation over the future of both drivers, albeit with Alguersuari's position in more doubt, both have been retained for at the least the start of 2010, but Buemi insists that he is feeling no extra pressure to perform as Toro Rosso fields the first car from its own Faenza design office since its previous incarnation as Minardi.
"I feel much better than last year, even if this year there's a lot less testing," he told the official F1 website, "I feel much more prepared, although that doesn't mean that I will do a better job. It's just that I feel better, that I've 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!
"Of course, the team will listen to the comments that I give a bit more but, in reality, I don't think too much about these things. I want to concentrate on racing. We ended the '09 season well, with Jaime and myself both in the points, and that is where we want to start this season."
Despite having to sever its ties with the Red Bull Technology office in Milton Keynes, Toro Rosso beat its more successful sister to unveil its 'new' car ahead of the first test of the year in Valencia and, even though heavily influenced by last year's Adrian Newey-penned offering, the team appears pleased with what it has produced.
"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," Buemi reflected after joining the majority of teams for the test, "We have gained a lot of data, and now we will sit down, analyse it and then try to implement our findings ahead of Jerez.
"My guess is that the earliest pecking order will only be able to be established at the last test in Barcelona - and we'll 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 it's not about showing-off what we can do."
Asked what changes he had found with the STR5, the former GP2 midfielder again commented that it was too early to make big judgements.
"Well, the cockpit hasn't changed a lot - we have just made sure that the vision is good and naturally you have to work on the seat," he noted, "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.
"There's no doubt that you feel it when you're 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. My first impression is that there is a little less grip at the front [with the narrower tyres] but, to be honest, we have to go back on the circuit and do some proper running to make a conclusion. It's not a completely new car - it looks quite like last year's one - but there will be an update for the first race. At the moment, all I can say that it's not too bad, and I am quite happy how things are going."