Sebastien Buemi does not expect his exile from the F1 grid to last for long, speaking optimistically of a possible return to competition after just a year on the sidelines.
Along with former Toro Rosso team-mate Jaime Alguersuari, the Swiss ace found himself without a ride when the Red Bull 'junior' team decided on a late, and wholesale, change of personnel, taking on rookies Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne for 2012. However, while Alguersuari headed for a combination of DJ decks and an analyst's role with the BBC
before being taken on by Pirelli to help with the development of its next batch of F1 tyres, Buemi was retained by Red Bull to act as test and reserve driver for its front-line squad. That, however, is not enough to satisfy his competitive urge.
"To be the third driver for Red Bull is good," he told Switzerland's 20 Minuten Online
, "Red Bull is the number one team in F1 and I have a foot in the door. This is important, but so too is returning [to a race seat] next year. There are options, but I cannot tell you anything before the ink is dry on a contract. All I can say is that it looks good at the moment."
With seats gradually filling up and down the grid, Buemi's options appear a little limit, with the likes of Ferrari and McLaren unlikely to consider him as a replacement for Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton should they move on for 2013. In the midfield, Sauber and Force India will potentially have vacancies, while Caterham, Marussia and HRT remain obvious boltholes with their need to balance talent with finance. Buemi, however, insists that he will be choosy when it comes to deciding his future, and will not consider the teams at the back of the grid.
"Of course I want to race again, but these teams are just too far away from all the rest," he pointed out, "You're not in the same race if you're being lapped after just 15 laps, and having to be careful that you do not get in the way."
Clearly, however, Toro Rosso will not
be among the teams on Buemi's shopping list for 2012, the fact that it looks likely to retain its current pairing notwithstanding.
"Toro Rosso isn't doing so well at the moment," he reflected, "They've got less than the number of points they got in 2011, but I try not to think about. The Toro Rosso chapter is completed and signed off for me. I am concentrating on my work at Red Bull, and I am grateful to them, as they have helped me a lot. I do not want to talk about the way my relationship ended with Toro Rosso. It is what it is, and I can not change it."
Intriguingly, Alguersuari is also being tipped to return to the grid next season, but is being equally discreet about where his opportunities may lie [see story here