Buemi, Alguersuari confident as Toro Rosso hangs fire
14 December 2011
Scuderia Toro Rosso may not be ready to make its decision on drivers for 2012, but both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi have claimed that they have reason to be optimistic about staying on for another year.
Neither driver made it through 2011 without being rumoured to face the axe, but a strong end to the campaign - in which the Italian team almost snatched seventh overall from Sauber - has given owner Red Bull reason to consider keeping an unchanged line-up, despite having both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne waiting in the wings. An announcement is now scheduled for after the Christmas-New Year break, with all four drivers waiting on the outcome before finalising their plans.
Alguersuari, who could have been replaced by Ricciardo at mid-season had he not pulled out of the slump that characterised his opening few races, has indicated to Spanish newspaper Marca that he will stay on at STR for 2012, as he continues to eye the likely vacancy at Red Bull Racing created by Mark Webber's departure ahead of the 2013 season.
“What do I have to do [to get Webber's seat]? According to [Red Bull Racing advisor) Helmut [Marko], I have to win a race with Toro Rosso," he revealed, "Those were his words in Japan, so I'll try. I have 20 races to try it and I have as good a chance as anyone, however small.”
Buemi, too, has suggested that he will remain with Toro Rosso, telling Swiss newspaper Le Temps that he expected to have confirmation around the turn of the year.
“I should have news in the next two weeks, but I'm very confident,” he said, “I already have events organised for next year, although confirmation of my place is not there yet. I am continuing to work normally, as I have always done, to prepare for the 2012 season. That's F1 and that's what we have to live with - once you're there, you have to be prepared to withstand the pressure.”
Like his team-mate, Buemi also has an eye on graduating to bigger and better things in F1, although he admits that results in 2012 are going to be important in determining his future.
“[My goal is] to get the best results at Toro Rosso and then to go into a team that will allow me to fight at the front,” he pointed out, “I am fortunate to be part of Red Bull, which has the world champion team. It means there are opportunities to go further.”
Despite having one eye on partnering double world champion Sebastian Vettel at RBR, however, neither driver secretly harbours dreams of emulating the German's recent run of success.
“It's a question I cannot answer,” Alguersuari claimed, "We do know what would happen if [Fernando] Alonso was in a Red Bull but, as for myself, it would be pure speculation, so I think it's better to say nothing. What I will say is that, if a driver has the best car, it is because he deserves it.”
Ricciardo, meanwhile, continues to be linked to a possible role at Caterham F1, replacing Jarno Trulli alongside Heikki Kovalainen. Although the Italian veteran signed an extension with Team Lotus - Caterham's forerunner in the top flight - the wording of the accompanying announcement has led to speculation that it may not necessarily be for a race seat, allowing the team to accept Red Bull's offer of placing Ricciardo in the second seat, much as it did at HRT this year. The two teams have strong technical ties, and Ricciardo should be able to better demonstrate his abilities with a team higher up the grid.
Vergne, however, looks set for a year of test and reserve duties, slotting in behind Alguersuari and Buemi at STR, and possessing the ability to keep both on their toes through the season. The Frenchman will then contest a parallel campaign in the Renault World Series, where he finished as runner-up in 2011.