Sebastian Vettel probably at Red Bull in 2009 ?ǣ so who will be at Toro Rosso?

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Sebastian Vettel, Monte-Carlo, Toro Rosso, 2008, practice, 470150

After announcing his retirement from Formula 1 at the British Grand Prix this weekend, David Coulthard heaped praise on up and coming Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel saying he, “has everything a future F1 winner needs.”

Vettel has long been tipped to take Coulthard?s seat at Red Bull. Coulthard?s words of praise probably were a realistic indication of where Vettel will be driving next year, rather than a guilty act of charity towards the driver he took out of the race at Silverstone.

If Vettel does leave Toro Rosso, who will fill the gap he leaves at the team in 2009?

Bruno Senna

Bruno Senna, nephew of the late Ayrton Senna and scourge of the Istanbul canine population, is second in the GP2 championship for iSport. He won at Silverstone in heavy wet conditions last weekend and also triumphed at Monte-Carlo, both of which attracted inevitable comparisons with his uncle.

Senna has been linked with Toro Rosso before. Team boss Gerhard Berger has said of him:

With his victory in Monaco, Senna moved into the field of vision, but a driver from the Red Bull sphere would be logical.

So who are the other drivers from the Red Bull stable who could take the seat?

Neel Jani

Jani is a Red Bull man and was test driver for the team for a while. After racing in Champ Car last year he switched to A1 Grand Prix and almost single-handedly won the title for Switzerland.

But he?s been on the outskirts of Formula 1 for a while and his chance of getting a seat may have passed. But if one of the bigger teams gets Senna?s name on a contract first he has a chance of landing the Toro Rosso drive.

Other Red Bull junior drivers

Red Bull has an enormous driver development schemes with talent in GP2, World Series by Renault, various Formula Three and Formula Renault championships, and more besides.

Portuguese Filipe Albuquerque impressed in A1 Grand Prix over the winter. He?s already confirmed to do another year in 2008/09, but the overlap with a Formula 1 campaign would be minimal. The next season?s A1 cars, based on the 2004 Ferrari, wil be much closer to F1 performance than their predecessors.

Another Red Bull-backed A1 star is Canadian Robert Wickens. The 19 year-old won his ninth race in the category, and is currently in World Series by Renault where he has also won this year. He has made some errors of inexperience, however ?ǣ such as causing a crash at the A1 Durban round by driving against the flow of traffic!

Other Red Bull drivers linked with the seat are Karun Chandhok, who has also been linked to Force India but has had a poor season in GP2 so far this year, and Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi.

Is Romain Grosjean a candidate?

A Renault Driver Development graduate with Formula Three Euroseries and GP2 Asia titles to his name. Grosjean probably has a decent chance of landing a Renault drive next year, perhaps replacing the unimpressive Nelson Piquet Jnr.

But Renault have proved reluctant to put rookies in their cars straight out of GP2 (where Grosjean currently races). Instead of leaving him to test for a year, which seemed to instil a race-rustiness in Heikki Kovalainen and Piquet Jnr, perhaps they could place him with a junior team? Toro Rosso is Red Bull?s junior team, and Red Bull use Renault engines.

Who do you think should or would get the Toro Rosso seat next year?

2009 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Sebastian Vettel probably at Red Bull in 2009 ?ǣ so who will be at Toro Rosso?”

  1. I’d like to think we’ll see ‘the next Senna’ — no, really — on the grid, next season.

    I hadn’t thought of Neel Jani, though, who, if you count individual drivers’ points, also took the inaugural A1GP title.

  2. Jonesracing82
    9th July 2008, 8:28

    Neel Jani may have done well in this A1GP title but in the other 2 he wasnt so impressive!
    i’d say he’s a longshot
    i’d love to see Senna get a drive

  3. Lustigson – You think he’s that good?

  4. Alonso

  5. “scourge of the Istanbul canine population”

    sorry to laugh, he was obviously freaked out by what happened.

    Senna himself said he doesn’t feel ready for F1, not even for 2009, probably more a mental block than on natural talent though.

  6. Pedro Andrade
    9th July 2008, 9:19

    Being Portuguese, I’m rooting for Filipe Albuquerque, if he can’t make it then Bruno Senna. As to who I think more probably will get the seat, I think it’s Senna nonetheless.

  7. @ Keith Collantine
    > Lustigson – You think he’s that good?

    Who, Jani? I’m not sure, but if his results are something to go by… His GP2 seasons weren’t that good, I’ll give you that, but he was 7th in his one and only Champ Car year — only 12 points shy from a top 5 finish — 2007-2008 champion in A1GP, and virtual drivers’ champion in the same series in 2005-2006.

  8. @Lustigson:

    He was asking you about Bruno. Personally, he won’t be the “next Senna”, if he was, he would have dominated GP2.

  9. But Senna does seem to have the edge in wet weather , which seems to be the case with many of the past world champions ?

  10. @ Internet
    > He was asking you about Bruno. Personally, he won’t
    > be the “next Senna”, if he was, he would have
    > dominated GP2.

    Oh, OK. My bad. But with ‘the next Senna’ I meant that he truely is the next driver named Senna… :-)

  11. What ever happened to Gary Paffett? Wasnt he a candidate for a Mclaren seat the same time as LH?

  12. Well, let’s not forget that winning the support series doesn’t mean you’ll win in Formula 1. I think Bruno Senna has what it takes to be an F1 driver…

    Besides him, I think Alvaro Parente should be in Formula 1 soon… I didn’t follow his career this year, but he really impressed me some months ago…

  13. I think it’s only a matter of time before Bruno Senna gets a place in F1, if only because of the huge PR opportunities!

    Neel Jani has spent too long trying to get an F1 drive with no success. And A1GP isn’t that great. As I pointed out on my blog recently, the only drivers to have made the move from A1GP to F1 have been Scott Speed and Nelsinho Piquet. Not exactly the hall of champions is it…

    I really rate Sébastien Buemi and I have been thinking that he is most likely to get the Toro Rosso seat, unless Senna takes it.

  14. @ Daniel
    > winning the support series doesn’t mean you’ll
    > win in Formula 1.

    In fact, I think if you make a list of all F3, F2/F3000/F-Nippon/GP2 and IndyCar/CART champions, the number that has won Grands Prix wouldn’t be much higher than, say, 20.

  15. “He was asking you about Bruno. Personally, he won’t be the “next Senna”, if he was, he would have dominated GP2.”

    Remember, Internet, Senna never even dominated British F3 (his last formulae before F1). He fought tooth and nail with Martin Brundle to win that.

    Hmmm… I wonder what Mark Webber is thinking now that he’ll be teamed up with the “kid” who may have cost him his 1st Grand Prix win at Fuji last year.

  16. I think Senna will be somewhere very soon. He is clearly tallented and the PR benefits are undeniable. With the rule change coming up there may be a significant benefit in having a new driver in preference to an experienced one.

    My personal hope though is that it is a current driver, and that the resulting movement will free up space for Anthony Davidson.

  17. I would love to see Barrichello at Torro, and get Alonso over to Honda. I think that the pairing of Button and Alonso would work well, and hopefully he will be able to push Button a bit more than Rubens has over the past couple of years.

  18. Don’t know why more people aren’t tipping Sebastian Buemi for this seat, as he’s carrying Arden in the GP2 series this year and has much better links to the Red Bull group than Senna. He’s a good racer and would also carry on the odd Sebastian theme that Toro Rosso have got at the moment.

  19. Before we seat another driver at STR maybe we ought to resolve the “customer car” situation. That little fire is still smoldering. Are STR and Force India really ‘constructors’ or just using or copying left over chassis. These teams may sneak through the 2009 season but sooner or later …… something will happen.

    A seat at STR may be short lived. Berger has been trying to sell off his share, with Vettel gone and Bourdais less that stellar…..the team may not need a replacement! They could just close up shop.

    I’d rather settle the ‘customer car’ problem and maybe get Pro-Drive or some others back in the game.

  20. anthony davidson or senna.
    i would like to see kimi in a toro rosso then we would see that his car is the only thing that makes him half decent.

  21. Force India certainly are constructors. STR is very questionable at the moment. While Bruno may be the obvious choice at the moment…here’s one from left field: Ant.

  22. Nick C – surely it’s the same for Lewis?

  23. Jos Verstappen! :D

    But seriously, Christian Klien?

  24. If not Jos, how about Jacques, Speed, JPM, Dario,or Marco?

  25. Nico Savidge
    9th July 2008, 21:54

    Could you imagine the media attention (and, therefore, sponsorship deals) STR could get from having “Senna” on one of their cars?

    Also, I don’t think Marco Andretti is ready for a race seat at an F1 team – maybe a test driver spot (which would mean giving up on IRL), but not a full-time Sunday drive.

  26. Massa.

    @Nick C Kimi started in a Sauber, remember?

  27. It’s going to be either Senna or Buemi- everyone wants the next top young talent, and Red Bull probably sees those guys as the next big things. Indeed, they won’t ignore the Senna name link in terms of sales and sponsorship. However, I also believe that whoever the team is sold to will have their own plans- perhaps someone else would come into play then.

    I would love for Davidson to get another crack in F1 soon, but it’s going to be tough for him to get past some of the young guns at the moment.

    I agree with Nico that Marco Andretti isn’t ready for an F1 move yet- he still has more to show in the Indy Car series before he gets some real consideration. And don’t forget that he recently went on a verbal spree against McLaren for supposedly giving his dad bad cars during his time there- I think that burned any ticket he would have had to Woking in future years, and perhaps other teams may be a bit cautious towards him in coming years.

  28. And about A1GP, doctorvee obviously knows much more about it than me, but I think we’ll see a few more drivers from the series filter into F1 in coming years, especially now that Ferrari has the deal for the cars. In terms of current F1 drivers, diden’t Sutil do a stint in A1GP as well?

    If you’re looking for a bright young driver currently in A1GP, keep an eye on Jonathan Summerton of Team USA- several good wins in the lower series, but no titles as of yet I believe. Still, he’s got age on his side and could suprise in future years.

  29. I have tipped Bruno Senna before for the Toro Rosso seat and its going to take alot to shift my mind. The implications for Toro Rosso, with the publicity, would be huge. In Brazil alone, not to mention the rest of the world.
    Also, the Gerhard Berger connection. It is well known that Berger has always paid close attention to Bruno’s progress, and has been a friend to the Senna family for years.
    However, it all depends on the powers at be. There are so many drivers out there to chose from at the moment, maybe Toro Rosso will surprise us.

  30. Neel Jani does say on his personal website that Formula 1 is his goal, so he’d go anyplace that honored him a seat, but if Neel is a logical choice, why not Anthony Davidson, or Justin Wilson?

  31. I think the strong friendship Berger had with Ayrton since their days driving at McLaren together shouldn’t be under estimated, nor should the Senna name for brand profile purposes.

  32. That’s why Senna’s recent links to BWM shouldn’t be underestimated, Berger being an ex-advisor of them in the Williams period. He certainly has some connections over there.

  33. Senna will get a drive somewhere at some point, but Toro Rosso; no disrespect, don’t have the appeal they did last year, with Red Bull now looking to sell the team.

    Possibly when their new and hopefully f1 mad owners come in they’ll be a more atractive prospect to young drivers.

    I think Red Bull will use next year to baptise some young blood in the f1 fires.

    Jani or Albuquerque would be the top two runners, with the final decision being made by Berger, who’s opinion is held highly by the boy’s at Red Bull. Why else have they let him tutor Vettel.

    Personally, I’d like to see Brendon Hartley given consideration.

  34. Adam Dennehey
    13th July 2008, 23:57

    Id personally give it to Buemi, Senna will get the gig but needs a good years testing. Although there’d be no harm of going down the Hamilton-route of ways and giving him the gig from the go.

    Both Buemi/Senna will race in F1 and id be happy for either to race for them.

  35. Apparently Salvador Duran is also in the running.

  36. I think Giorgio Pantano. He’s been in GP2 long enough now. He can partner Bruno Senna if Bourdais heads for the door which I think he will.

  37. Has anyone seen Lucas di Grassi? Amazing performance in GP2 so far, would be a good fit.

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