Sébastien Bourdais has revealed that there are five drivers, not just three, under consideration for the two available Formula 1 seats at Scuderia Toro Rosso next year – as his manager admits that the Frenchman is undergoing 'a rather unpleasant period'.
Bourdais, namesake and GP2 Series race-winner Sébastien Buemi and out-of-work Super Aguri refugee Takuma Sato all tried out for STR during the first major group test of the winter around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya this week. Though the former wound up the quickest of the three despite having completed by some margin the fewest laps, he stressed that his performance is no guarantee of a stay of execution at the Red Bull 'junior' concern in 2009.
"Obviously you have to show that you are the one who deserves to be there and obviously I need to show again that I am quick enough and deserve to be there," the 29-year-old – voted seventh in Crash.net
readers' list of top ten drivers of the season [see separate story –click here
] told the official Formula 1 website, "but that's not going to be enough.
"As long as they don't have the money to run the team in a proper way they won't be able to say [who they want], because it doesn't matter whether you have talented drivers at the wheel of the car if you can't run the car.
"There were three drivers in Barcelona, but Rubens [Barrichello] is on the list and Bruno [Senna] as well – if he doesn't get picked up by Honda – so anybody who has got talent and money today is a potential candidate."
Though Bourdais is undoubtedly talented – as his record-breaking four consecutive Champ Car crowns across the Pond attest to, as did his vastly improved form over the second half of his maiden F1 campaign in 2008 – he is struggling considerably more on the financial side, with both Sato and Buemi believed to be able to bring funding to the small, private Faenza-based outfit that the present incumbent cannot hope to match.
Reflecting on his rookie season in the top flight – one that had initially looked set to destroy his excellent reputation as he struggled to get a handle on the Monaco-introduced STR3 – the man from Le Mans admitted that it had been a big let-down, even if six top ten qualifying showings from the last seven grands prix and his increasingly gritty and impressive race performances towards the end proved that he deserves a second go in 2009.
"It was quite disappointing as far as I am concerned," he mused, "because obviously we had a good beginning with the STR2, where I was fairly close to Sebastian Vettel, and then with the STR3 it became a lot harder because I was facing balance issues which we really could not solve.
"We had one happy driver and one fairly unhappy driver. The time difference was getting very big sometimes, and you really don't look good and can't really be satisfied with that.