Sébastien Buemi again showcased Scuderia Toro Rosso's potential in F1 2011 with its new challenger, by setting the second-quickest time on day two around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya
– although the young Swiss ace's seat at the Red Bull
'junior' outfit this year continues to look decidedly tenuous...
With the STR6 running reliably – in contrast to a troubled previous day – Buemi was able to get through the most laps of any driver present in Spain, and a full race simulation in the morning provided useful data in terms of tyre degradation, car performance and reliability. The 22-year-old followed that up in the afternoon with lower-fuel runs and pit-stop practice, and tried out all three tyre compounds brought to the test by Pirelli as he wound up a mere four tenths adrift of pace-setter Sebastian Vettel
at the close of play.
“We can be pleased with what we achieved today, because with 120 laps, it meant we completed all the programme we had planned,” he reported. “Apart from the race simulation, I was also able to do a qualifying simulation.
“We showed a reasonable performance level, and the team did a very good job in preparing the car so well. Overall, it has been a productive test. Now, we must wait and see if we can make even more progress over the next two days with Jaime [Alguersuari – team-mate] driving, and then we can see where we really are when we get to Melbourne.”
Whilst both Buemi and Alguersuari will be on the grid for the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix
at the end of this month, however, rumours persist that at least one of them will fail to see out the campaign with the small Faenza-based concern.
Controversial Red Bull
motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko has reiterated of late that there will be no hesitation in ousting an underperforming driver – bluntly telling Blick
newspaper that 'if there is no more potential for a successful grand prix career, we separate' – and with highly-rated test and reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo waiting patiently and expectantly in the wings, it is Buemi that is widely-regarded as being the current occupant of the STR ejector seat.
“There is no excuse for my weak end to the  season,” he confessed, “but in 2011 we will see a new, toned Buemi who is also stronger in the head. Under normal circumstances, I will have Jaime under control.”
To see Wednesday's testing times in full, click here