Sebastien Bourdais could achieve his dream of becoming a grand prix driver by the end of July - provided Scuderia Toro Rosso decides to take up the option it has on the Frenchman.

Bourdais, a three-time Champ Car title winner, has tested on several occasions with the Italian operation and team boss Gerhard Berger confirmed at the Nurburgring that Toro Rosso has first call on his services, but only until the end of the month. Bourdais has been tipped to join STR since the end of last year, when he ran with the team during winter testing, but time expired before he could be extracted from his contract with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in the US.

"I have to say he delivered what we were expecting from him," Berger told a press conference in Germany, "He has been quick, consistent and good with the engineers, so I think he has good potential."

Berger admitted, however, that Bourdais was not the only name on his list of contenders with current pilots Scott Speed and Tonio Liuzzi also expected to face opposition from Red Bull prot?g? Sebastian Vettel, who made his F1 debut with BMW Sauber at Indianapolis and is currently leading the World Series by Renault.

"We're just coming into the second half of the season and, obviously, we are looking to improve our situation on the technical side and also looking at what is the right decision for the future on the drivers' side," the Austrian continued, "There are a couple of names that we're interested in, where we know they are able to do a good job - one of them is Sebastien, the other is Sebastian Vettel. Hopefully, we're going to see some more possibilities and we're going to check everything very carefully and then make a decision - the right thing for us for the future."

BMW team boss Mario Theissen, attending the same press call, refused to be drawn on whether Vettel was in his plans, although there is some speculation that if the German prot?g? is not taken up by BMW, he reverts to the will of Red Bull.

"I can't say anything about it at this point of time because we are talking to the drivers, we are evaluating the situation and certainly we will do this internally," was all Theissen would say, "As soon as we have a decision, we will announce it."

Ironically, Bourdais - who is managed by Nicolas Todt - could find that his arrival in F1 coincides with France's exit from the top flight - although the FFSA says that it intends to campaign for its date to reinstated on next year's calendar. Should the plea fail, Bourdais will also have missed out on a possible Champ Car race in France, which is among the venues being mooted for an expanded European schedule in 2008.

 

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