Red Bull Racing has confirmed pre-Christmas rumours that Sebastien Buemi will be the test and reserve driver for the 2012 season. He will carry out simulation work at the team’s HQ in Milton Keynes and will be present at all the Grands Prix, standing in for either Sebastian Vettel or Mark Webber should either of them be injured or unavailable.
It would make sense for him also to fulfil a similar role for Toro Rosso as he will be at the races, knows the team and it’s highly unlikely that both teams would find themselves a driver short at the same time. But that is not part of today’s announcement.
Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were both dropped by the Red Bull owned Toro Rosso team before Christmas, but the Swiss driver has a lifeline with this deal which will keep him working in F1 at least.
This is a well-trodden path for drivers; it can lead to a route back to an F1 race seat; Alex Wurz did a similar deal with Williams in 2006 and ended up being given a season of racing in 2007. But back in those days the test driver actually got many opportunities to drive a car on the track.
Today there are few chances with only three pre-season tests – one in Jerez and two in Barcelona and then a new three day test in May in Mugello.
The race drivers will want maximum time in the car pre-season, with the plan believed to be that Webber will go out first in the RB8 at Jerez on day one and Vettel will take the second and third days.
That said, Red Bull don’t have any obvious stand out drivers coming up behind Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, who took the seats at Toro Rosso. So in the event that Mark Webber stops racing at the end of 2012, or moves teams, Buemi may be hoping that there might be a chance of a seat back at Toro Rosso, if either Vergne or Ricciardo gets promoted.
“It’s good to remain with Red Bull for another year and have this opportunity with the World Championship-winning team,” said Buemi.
“I would prefer to be driving at the races of course, but working with Red Bull Racing on the development of their car and providing them with feedback throughout the season is the next best thing.”