One To Watch
Sebastien Buemi will drive for Toro Rosso during their three-day test in September as the team decide whether to give him an F1 seat for 2009.
If he gets in, he’ll be the first Swiss driver to start a Grand Prix since Jean-Denis Deletraz at the Nurburgring in 1995 – when Buemi was five years old.
Now 19, he is racing in GP2 and has won twice this year. Here’s a few details on his career to date.
Buemi started in karts aged five and made the step up to racing cars in 2004. He raced in the German Formula BMW championship and finished a creditable third overall in his rookie season – the same year Sebastian Vettel won 18 of the 20 races.
He also had his first taste of F1 machinery in 2004, driving a 1999-specification Arrows at the Luc track in France, in a session arranged by sponsors TAG Heuer.
Buemi returned to Formula BMW in 2005 and narrowly missed out on the title to Nico Hulkenberg by 287 points to 282. He was second in the world final event to Marco Holzer.
Buemi also dipped his toe into F3 that year, making a one-off appearance in the Spanish championship round at Valencia. The following year he raced in the F3 Euro Series for Mücke, won the reverse-grid race at Oschersleben, and ended the year 12th overall.
In his second season of F3 last year Buemi went head-to-head with Romain Grosjean for the Euro Series title. Grosjean had the benefit of racing for ASM – champions in the previous two seasons with Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta – and Grosjean beat him to the title, Buemi scoring three wins.
Bruemi’s efforts were perhaps also hampered by his activities in other racing series. He made 11 starts in GP2 as a substitute and despite his inexperience set fastest lap three times. He also raced in A1 Grand Prix.
He was signed by Arden and raced in the GP2 Asia series last winter, winning once at Sentul, though it was inherited following Luca Filippi’s disqualification. However Buemi scored points consistently throughout the season and finished second in the championship, though some way behind Grosjean.
Buemi stayed with Arden for the GP2 main series this year and has won twice in the Sunday sprint races. His feature race performances on Saturday have occasionally been hindered by poor qualifying, though as the season has gone on he seems to have got on top of that problem.
His win at Magny-Cours in tricky wet conditions – including a carefully-judged pass on team mate Yelmer Buurman – was excellent. But for a clutch failure on the grid last Sunday he might have scored a third win.
Buemi is one of many young drivers backed by Red Bull and he became the test driver for the team at the start of the year having tested for them previously. Unlike some drivers in the same position at other teams he’s actually had an appreciable amount of running, including tests at Barcelona, Jerez and Paul Ricard.
Now Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso is to test him with an eye to placing him alongside Sebastien Bourdais for 2009 – and continue their unofficial policy of only employing drivers called Sebastien/an.
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