Sébastien Bourdais has insisted that Scuderia Toro Rosso now has 'a fairly good idea' regarding its driver line-up for 2009, as his seat at the small Faenza-based concern looks to be the safest it has been all season.
The record-breaking multiple Champ Car king endured a torrid debut to his career in the top flight earlier this year, struggling to get to grips with Toro Rosso's new STR3 following its introduction at the Monaco Grand Prix back in May, and invariably being out-classed by team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
As the pressure has mounted, however, he has dug deep and significantly raised his game, proving to be all-but a match for the Italian Grand Prix winner in recent outings and qualifying inside the top ten on the starting grid for five of the last six races.
Though he has also been dogged by bad luck – such as his controversial retrospective 25-second penalty in the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji just over a week ago – it is increasingly appearing that Bourdais may now have just done enough.
“I think they know now what Sébastien Bourdais can do,” he told French radio station RMC
. “They have a pretty good idea about what they are going to do next season.
“If other factors come into play then that's another problem, but that's F1. Things change, and often dramatically. What matters most is that you manage to stay in the paddock.”
What's more, many in the F1 paddock believe the sport's dramatic regulation changes for 2009 will present Bourdais with the opportunity to show his real
potential, and STR co-owner Gerhard Berger confirmed last week that the man from Le Mans is at 'the top of the list' for next season [see separate story – click here
“He has had several good races even when he did not always score points,” the ten-time grand prix winner revealed. “His potential is good, but we are not yet ready to make a decision.
“There is nothing further to say on this point. We are collecting information and pursuing drivers to think about what is the best solution for us next year.”
Super Aguri refugee Takuma Sato and GP2 Series stars Bruno Senna and Sébastien Buemi have similarly been linked to STR for the 2009 campaign, whilst somewhat wilder rumours have suggested Bourdais may yet find an alternative home at Renault, a team that snubbed him for the role of test driver six years ago in favour of current sportscar ace Franck Montagny.