Scuderia Toro Rosso have announced that all three main hopefuls for the two race seats in their team will take part in next week’s test at the Spanish circuit, Jerez. This will be the third time Takuma Sato will have spent some time in the car, the unemployed Japanese driver having previously tested for the squad in September and November. Sebastien Bourdais will continue to fight for his chance to spend a second season with STR while the perhaps favourite, Red Bull Racing test driver Sebastien Buemi, will also join the group.
Swiss driver Buemi is expected to run for all three days of the testing session, strongly implying that he will indeed replace the outgoing Sebastian Vettel, who has moved to parent-team Red Bull Racing. Therefore it is looking increasingly likely that Bourdais and Sato will be closely watched as the team bosses attempt to decide who should get the ride.
We obviously see this as a positive step but still nothing is decided for the 2009 racing season. Andrew Gilbert-Scott, Manager of Takuma Sato.
Sebastien Bourdais did well at the Barcelona test last month and outshone Buemi on both days the pair were on track. Each day the French pilot lapped the Catalan circuit 0.2s quicker, proving his familiarity with the STR3 chassis and placing himself in a strong position for the “more experienced” role the team are looking for.
However, Bourdais didn’t get everything his own way, and Takuma Sato put in some impressive laps as well. On the first day (when Bourdais wasn’t driving) Sato headed the tables with the fastest lap. On Sato’s final day of testing, he was quicker than Bourdais, but only by 0.017s.
Scuderia Toro Rosso, like all the other teams, only have two race seats available, and a test driver role is pretty limited as the 2009 chassis is expected to be another hand-me-down from Red Bull, especially so as owner Dietrich Mateschitz recently re-acquired Gerhard Berger’s share of the team. There had been murmurings that a decision would be made before Christmas, but this has since been denounced by a team spokesperson.