Sebastien Buemi underlined the belief that Scuderia Toro Rosso's STR6 could be a more promising prospect than its predecessor as he claimed the final point for tenth place in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
While that point could be important at the end of the year, however, the Swiss driver will hope that a bigger one will have been made to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko as the pressure ramps up on both Toro Rosso drivers in 2011.
Marko has made no secret of the fact that Buemi and team-mate Jaime Alguersuari face competition for their seats from reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo and, although it was Alguersuari who had to make way for the Australian on Friday in Melbourne, Buemi is wise enough to know that on-track performances will count heavily in determining his future with the team.
While Alguersuari finished 13th, after a time consuming brush with both Buemi and Michael Schumacher on the opening lap, Buemi flirted with the points for much of the race, and only lost ninth place to a charging Felipe Massa in the closing stages. Marko had congratulated the Swiss driver for withstanding the pressure and making the top ten shootout for the first time since 2009 after his fifth row start was confirmed on Saturday afternoon, but added that 'now he has to confirm it in the race'.
“It's not too bad finishing tenth, after making it to Q3 yesterday, but I think I could have done better - maybe an eighth or ninth place was possible," Buemi mused after taking the chequered flag, "Towards the end, I was not able to hold off Massa, who was much quicker than me at that point, but I am still pleased with the result. Overall, I would say we are definitely more competitive than last year and now we must continue to move forward, bringing further improvements to the car. It has been a positive start and we will have a lot to learn from analysing this whole weekend and then we will see what we can do in Malaysia.”
Buemi was less happy with his team-mate, who he suggested could have done more to avoid their touch on lap one.
"It's a shame that my team-mate and I made contact at the first corner, but it's not the first time it has happened," he sighed, "I think we will be having a chat about it after I've watched a recording of the incident!"
Perhaps Alguersuari was already feeling pressure from Marko, having admitted that he felt 'slightly uneasy' at seeing Ricciardo in his car on Friday, but he appeared more concerned about the contact with Schumacher that potentially cost him his own shot at the points.
“I got a good start, moving up to about tenth or eleventh place I think, but then, coming into turn two, Michael cut the corner as he was having a go around the outside, while I was on the inside," he revealed, "The result was that he touched my front wing and I had to come in to change it. He could not have avoided doing it, as I was already in the middle of the corner, but that meant I had an extra stop, which effectively ended my chances of getting a good result."
The Spaniard also insisted that there was no problem with Ricciardo getting track time, which will be split between the two race cars as the season progresses, although he could probably have chosen better words in light of the first lap brush with his team-mate.