Sebastian Vettel, who makes his debut for Scuderia Toro Rosso in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, will race for the team in 2008 too after it was revealed that his deal is for more than just the remainder of this season.

Red Bull prot?g? Vettel was announced as the replacement for the out-of-favour Scott Speed earlier in the week and although the German was a strong favourite to extend his relationship with the team in next season, only now has it been made official.

Already in the history books after becoming the youngest driver to ever score a Formula 1 World Championship point at this year's United States Grand Prix whilst deputising for the injured Robert Kubica at BMW, Vettel is also amongst an elite group of drivers to finish inside the points on their debut too.

Indeed, the 19-year-old has been embroiled in something of a tug of war between chief backers Red Bull and long-time employers BMW, but having been released from his test driving duties to race with STR from this weekend onwards, it seems Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost took the opportunity to secure his services for 2008 too.

"There is absolutely no pressure," Gerhard Berger confirmed to the official STR website. "Sebastian is under contract with us for a year and a half and we expect him to grow with the team, so we are not expecting anything in particular from him this weekend."

Looking ahead to his first outing in the car, Vettel concedes he is set for a steep learning curve and he admits it will be tough to initially adapt to a car that won't have the same front running credentials as the BMW he has been testing.

Nonetheless, having raced at the Hungaroring just three weeks ago in the World Series by Renault, a championship he was leading before his switch, Vettel is looking forward to embarking on his full-time F1 career.

"It's difficult to predict because I've never been in the car, so tomorrow will be the first time but for sure, the car is not as strong as the top cars in front and there is a lot of work to do, but I think I can bring some motivation to the team and try my best to improve the situation and then finally get some points.

"Everybody can understand that this year the testing regulations are very restrictive. You don't get to drive a lot. So the one that suffers most is the third driver, or even the two test drivers. Therefore I think it was a very smart decision and a great opportunity for myself to do the step and that's it. For sure the car is not on the same basis as the BMW car for instance. But you know this is the challenge.

"The car is not up there but you know there is a lot to work on and a lot to improve so I try to do the best on the circuit and also off the circuit to improve the situation. I don't care too much what happened in the past I prefer to focus on what is coming next and I am really looking forward to it.

No word about Vettel's team-mate has been made but with one young Red Bull-backed star in the fold, STR could be tempted to deviate from their extensive driver portfolio making the likes of Champ Car star Sebastien Bourdais a more favourable prospect than ever. Ralf Schumacher has also been linked with the seat as his contract with Toyota comes up for review, although current driver Vitantonio Liuzzi is also likely to fight for the berth.

 

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