Sébastien Bourdais has confessed that he is still struggling to get to grips with Scuderia Toro Rosso's new STR3, following another race in which 'it all went to hell' in the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend.
The Frenchman may have seen the chequered flag in five of the six outings since the introduction of the small Faenza-based outfit's 2008 machine in Monaco in May, but on none of those occasions has he finished in the points, and he has been out-qualified four-two by young team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Budapest – where Bourdais started 19th and crossed the finish line 18th and last – simply witnessed a continuation of that trend.
“There were two sides to the weekend,” the 29-year-old related. “It got off to a good start, and then I had some problems in qualifying. The race also started quite well, as I had good pace. Then it all went to hell at the first pit-stop, as the guys had to use the fire extinguisher and I got a lot of foam on my visor.
“It happened again at the second stop, and this time I had foam inside and outside my visor and couldn't see a thing so had to make another stop to get it cleaned. By this stage we had lost so much time, there was nothing else to do and I preferred to make the extra stop as the lack of visibility was dangerous.”
That type of ill-fortune has been typical of the record-breaking, multiple Champ Car Champion's maiden season in the top flight, as he has failed to get in amongst the points-scorers since the curtain-raiser Down Under all the way back in March.
With persistent paddock whispers that his seat at STR is under threat for 2009, the man from Le Mans acknowledges the situation does not look encouraging – revealing there is little sign of any light at the end of the tunnel in his bid to get a handle on the car, effectively a Ferrari-powered version of parent concern Red Bull Racing's RB4.
“I do not feel very good with this car,” he told French language publication RMC
. “There is no technical solution – it is a characteristic of the car that does not fit with me at all.
“The problem is that, of the four drivers, I am the only one complaining [about the issue], and at Toro Rosso it is not for us to talk about the [car's] development.”
Still, there was worse luck still for Vettel at the Hungaroring. The German ran in the midfield following an opening lap error, until he was forced out of contention prematurely as a consequence of a problem that developed during his first pit-stop on lap 23.