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Posts Tagged ‘Toro Rosso’

Sebastien Bourdais in Turkey

Scuderia Toro Rosso confirmed on Friday that Sebastien Bourdais will continue as a driver for the team in 2009. After many months of speculation about his future at the team, he narrowly avoided being replaced by Japan’s Takuma Sato.

Bourdais had a difficult, and some might say, unlucky season with Toro Rosso in 2008. He was largely overshadowed by team mate Sebastian Vettel who, after some impressive showings last year which included a race win at Monza, has been promoted to the Red Bull senior team. Towards the end of the season doubts were starting to form as to whether STR would retain him, and after the conformation that the team were looking for a pay driver to fill their second seat, Sato, who fell victim to the collapse of Super Aguri, became a favourite for the seat with his Japanese backing. Bourdais managed to cling on though, and will partner rookie Sebastien Buemi in the upcoming season.

Bourdais has announced he will also be competing in this years 24 Hours of Le Mans race for Peugeot. He is the first active F1 driver to do so since fellow Frenchman Franck Montagny in 2006. STR’s decision leaves all the driver positions for 2009 filled, with the exception of the two seats at the former Honda team, who are yet to announce a buyer.

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Sebastien Buemi in 2008

Scuderia Toro Rosso officially confirmed on Friday that Sebastien Buemi has been signed for a race seat at the team for the 2009 season. He replaces Sebastian Vettel who moved to the Red Bull parent team alongside Mark Webber, in response to the retirement of David Coulthard. Since then, the Swiss driver, who took up the third driver role at Red Bull last year, had become the favourite to take one of the two available seats.

“I am naturally very happy to be driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso this year,” said Buemi. “This year, I will do all I can to bring home the best possible results and to show Red Bull that the confidence it has shown in me is justified. I want to thank Red Bull for this opportunity and for all the help they have given me in my career, dating back to 2005.” The 20 year old will make his first outing as an official race driver for STR later this month in Portugal.

His 2009 teammate is yet to be confirmed, but either Sebastien Bourdais or Takuma Sato are favourites to take the job. It is possible that STR are waiting for more news from Honda, before confirming their second driver, in the hope of signing Jenson Button.

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Sebatien Buemi in STR3 at Jerez

Sebastien Buemi has given a boost to his campaign to land a Toro Rosso seat next year, by finishing fastest at all three days of the latest test at the Jerez circuit. The Toro Rossos were once again leading the time sheets, with their only slightly modified 2008 car, but Buemi shook off competition from Sebastien Bourdais and Takuma Sato to try and prove that he is ready for an F1 race seat.

Day one of the test saw only 6 teams make an appearance. The former Honda team were forced to pull out as they were too busy talking to buyers, with Force India, Toyota and Red Bull also missing. Kimi Raikkonen made his return to the wheel of an F1 car, following the season finale. His best time, 1:20.261, put him fifth behind McLaren test drivers Gary Paffett and Pedro de la Rosa. Everyone had their running affected by rain and fog, though. Buemi led with a 1:18.74, just over half a second faster than Bourdais.

Day two, and McLaren revealed their concept 2009 car. Heikki Kovalainen joined in, alongside de la Rosa, and drove his KERS-fitted McLaren to the sixth fastest time. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa made their off-season testing debuts, and Bourdais and Sato shared their testing duties. Neither could beat Buemi though, with Sato six tenths off his best time, and Bourdais just behind in third.

The final day of the test saw Kovalainen as the fastest man not in a Toro Rosso. His time was 0.7 seconds ahead of Raikkonen, 1 second ahead of Massa, and a further 0.3 seconds ahead of Alonso. Meanwhile, Buemi completed his hat trick with a best time of 1:17.258, just under 0.3 seconds faster than Sato.

The final tests of the year start on December 15, with teams split between Jerez and the brand new Algarve circuit in Portugal.

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Gerhard Berger in Monaco

Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, has bought back the 50% stake in Toro Rosso that he sold to Gerhard Berger in 2006. The deal means that Mateschitz and Red Bull now have complete control over Toro Rosso. The move goes against the Austrian’s former plans for the team, where he intended to sell his stake in STR.

Toro Rosso had a very successful 2008 season, with both pole position and a win at their home Grand Prix being the highlight of a year where they finished above the senior Red Bull team. Despite the success, the team’s future was in doubt, with the ban on customer cars in 2010 and ever-increasing costs. If a buyer could not be found, it looked as if they may be forced to drop out, meaning, in Max Mosley’s words, that F1 would “cease to have a credible grid.” The recent success of the Italian outfit is likely to have prompted Mateschitz into the move.

Gerhard Berger has said “I am very happy that I can support Didi, who has committed himself to Formula 1 with so much dedication with the reorganisation of the team and in this process to make use of my knowledge so effectively.”

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Takuma Sato in STR3 at Barcelona

The first test since the conclusion of the 2008 season got underway on Monday, with all but one team present. It was Toyota that sat out whilst the rest of the pack started their preparations for the 2009 season, by testing new regulations and evaluating new drivers at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona

Toro Rosso’s fight for race seats was brought to the front of the time sheets and Takuma Sato set the fastest time of the day, a 1:20.763, three tenths faster than Sebastien Buemi in the sister STR. The Italian team will continue their driver evaluation into tomorrow, where Sebastien Bourdais will join the battle. Alex Wurz was in a modified RA108, and set the third fastest time for Honda ahead of the McLaren test drivers, Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett. Robert Kubica and Christian Klien set the sixth and ninth fastest time in a radical concept BMW F1.09 car. Five-time rally champion, Sebastien Loeb, took the to wheel of the Red Bull RB3, and finished seventh fastest. Test drivers Luca Badoer and Mark Gene were out for Ferrari and tried out their KERS and former test driver for Spyker, Giedo van de Garde, was driving for Renault. Bruno Senna finally made his first appearance in an F1 car, sharing the Honda RA1O8 with fellow Brazilian and Renault test driver, Lucas di Grassi.

Testing continues into Tuesday at the Circuit de Catalunya.

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Sebastien Bourdais in Toro Rosso STR3 at Shanghai

Three drivers will be joining Scuderia Toro Rosso for their first testing duties of the off-season. Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastien Buemi and Takuma Sato will be under evaluation for the two race seats available at the Italian team, who waved goodbye to their star driver, Sebastian Vettel, at the end of the season.

Four time champ car champion, Bourdais, came under pressure mid-season for not matching up to Vettel’s results, and may now get the boot from the team if he is out-performed at the upcoming test. His rivals (Red Bull third driver, Buemi, and Sato, who also tested for STR in September following the collapse of his Super Aguri team), are both looking in very strong positions for a race seat. If rumours are to be believed, GP2 drivers Bruno Senna and Giorgio Pantano may also be in the running for a seat, and even Rubens Barrichello may be a contender for a drive, if he is forced out of Honda.

The test will take place at Barcelona next week.

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Italian Grand Prix winner, Sebastian Vettel, has set the fastest time on the third day of the Jerez test, while driving for his 2009 team, Red Bull Racing. He stopped BMW, now in the hands of Nick Heidfeld, staying at the top by just 0.1 seconds after setting a best lap of 1:18.001.

Lucas di Grassi continued with Renualt, on a day that saw frequent showers, and finished in third ahead of Pedro de la Rosa in a McLaren. Alex Wurz also continued with Honda, improving his pace to finish fifth ahead of Takuma Sato who was testing for Toro Rosso in the hope of a race seat next year, after his team, Super Aguri, withdrew before the Turkish Grand Prix. His day was made harder by the weather and his best lap was 1:19.574. Kamui Kobayashi was still out for Toyota and put Kazuki Nakajima and Williams at the bottom.

Testing at Jerez continues into Friday.

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