Red Bull's test and reserve driver Sebastien Buemi has admitted that being forced to watch F1 Grand Prix races from the pit lane and not being able to be on the starting grid himself is very difficult to bear.
"Yes, it's terrible," the 24-year-old Swiss driver told Russian site F1 News
this week. "Real torture ... There's definitely nothing worse for a driver than not being on the track."
Buemi competed in F1 for three seasons with Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso, but lost the seat at the start of 2012 and accepted the role of test driver at Red Bull instead, which he has just extended for a second year into 2013. (See separate story
"Working with Red Bull Racing is only a plus for my career," he pointed out after the new one-year deal was signed. "It's a great privilege to be associated with such a great team. I help out the team in every way I can."
He said that he'd opted to stay with Red Bull when no viable racing alternatives arose after the 2012 season: "I didn't have the opportunity to sign with a competitive team, so I decided to stay," he explained, confirming that his hopes for a return to the grid in 2013 were over.
Before entering F1, Buemi competed in A1 Grand Prix and GP2; but at the moment it's the opportunity to stay race-sharp by competing in world endurance events with Toyota Racing that is proving particularly appealing to him.
"I have signed a contract with Toyota and will be at the start at Le Mans and at least three other races," Buemi confirmed. "I also have 15 days of testing so it's a good programme."
Buemi was one of Anthony Davidson's co-drivers in the Le Mans 24 Hours last year, before the team's race ended with Davidson's spectacular airborne accident that sidelined the British driver for the rest of the year.
"It's a great team and I have always wanted to race in the Le Mans," Buemi said. "It helps me prepare well for F1. The experience which I have gained by racing in it is really worth it," he added, while admitting that sportscar endurance racing was certainly a very different style to driving in Grand Prix events.
But despite his enthusiasm for Le Mans, Buemi insisted that he certainly was't giving up on a return to F1 in the future - especially given that Red Bull's Mark Webber has only signed a one-year renewal with the team till the end of 2013.
"Nothing can be ruled out," said Buemi, pointing out that the situation in F1 was always in a state of flux and prone to rapid change. "But even if at the end of the year Mark Webber finishes his career, it is clear that there will be a lot of applicants for his place."
In the meantime, Buemi will continue working as a TV co-commentator at race weekends, while hoping that an opportunity to return to F1 duty opens up in the coming months.