There have been further whisperings within the Formula 1 paddock of late that Sébastian Buemi joining Scuderia Toro Rosso to make his debut in the top flight in 2009 is all-but a done deal.
It has been rumoured for months that the Swiss rookie – who finished sixth in the GP2 Series feeder category last season with Trust Team Arden, triumphing twice along the way – is as good as a shoe-in for one of the two available seats at the Red Bull 'junior' outfit this year.
The 20-year-old Red Bull Racing test driver has tried out for the small Faenza-based squad on a number of occasions, and on his most recent appearance for the team at Jerez in Spain last month he outpaced both of his fellow competitors for a drive, 2008 STR incumbent Sébastien Bourdais and out-of-work Super Aguri refugee Takuma Sato.
Speaking to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport
about his anticipated F1 bow, Buemi contended that it would be bittersweet because 'you work towards your goal for so long and then when you're finally there, the sport is in crisis', whilst recently departed co-owner Gerhard Berger told Swiss newspaper Blick
that the team would remain strong in 2009 because 'Toro Rosso will have a good and fast driver in Buemi'.
It has long been STR's stated desire to take on one young gun such as Buemi alongside a more experienced hand such as Bourdais or Sato, and team principal Franz Tost is already predicting great things from his new protégé.
“Buemi is going to stay close to Faenza,” the Austrian explained. “If we can work together each and every day, we will be getting the maximum out of him.”