Despite being dropped by Toro Rosso ahead of the 2012 grand prix campaign, Sebastien Buemi is rumoured to remain a part of the wider Red Bull F1 operation.
The Swiss driver, who was generally out-performed by team-mate Jaime Alguersuari in STR's strong run-in to the end of last season, appeared to have lost his foothold in the top flight when Red Bull cleared the decks to make way for Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. However, unlike Alguersuari, it appears that he may be thrown a lifeline by the drinks brand after speculation linked him to the reserve driver role at championship winning Red Bull Racing.
According to veteran Swiss journalist Roger Benoit, Buemi will play the back-up, not only to Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, but also to the two drivers who combined to oust him from a full-time ride for 2012.
“No one wants to say if the contract has been signed yet or not,” Benoit wrote in Swiss newspaper Blick
, “but for [Buemi], it is the best solution to at least stay in the paddock.”
With just two vacancies remaining on the 2012 grid - at Williams and HRT - opportunities for a race contract are narrowing for both STR refugees, and it appears conceivable that Alguersuari, British F3 champion just three seasons ago before being thrust into the F1 spotlight, could be left on the sidelines when the music stops. Many believe that that would be a travesty given his latent ability behind the wheel, but the Spaniard is reported to have blown his chances of filling the Red Bull reserve role by falling out with the company's F1 advisor Helmut Marko.
Several Spanish outlets have pointed to a row between the pair that took place in the pit-lane during Saturday practice at the Korean Grand Prix [see video here
]. Marko appears to be reprimanding Alguersuari for not allowing champion-elect Vettel to pass through the twisty final section of the Yeongam circuit, and does not take kindly to the Spaniard's response, in which he questions whether, given the pace of his car, he is supposed to let other cars pass 'on every single lap'....