It was confirmed on July 31st that BMW Sauber test and third driver Sebastian Vettel has been released from the team and will replace Scott Speed at Toro Rosso for the rest of the season, starting from this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. Vettel,...
It was confirmed on July 31st that BMW Sauber test and third driver Sebastian Vettel has been released from the team and will replace Scott Speed at Toro Rosso for the rest of the season, starting from this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. Vettel, who became a Red Bull Junior in his karting days, has been widely tipped to replace Speed since relations between the American and Toro Rosso deteriorated.
"As our test and reserve driver Sebastian has carried out sterling work for us," said BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen. "When he stood in for Robert Kubica in the USA Grand Prix he made history by becoming the youngest debutant to earn a world championship point."
"However, the current testing rules mean that he barely gets a chance to drive for us. Now he has been offered the opportunity to get inside a Toro Rosso cockpit. We have sponsored and coached Sebastian over a number of years. To place obstacles in his career path now would go against our concept of talent promotion."
BMW second tester Timo Glock, who currently leads the GP2 championship, steps up to the official reserve driver role. He will miss any GP2 race in the event that either Nick Heidfeld or Robert Kubica is unable to race for BMW in F1. Toro Rosso released a brief statement to confirm Vettel's arrival said the team welcomed him back to the family.
Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger and team principal Franz Tost have recently made it no secret that they are unhappy with the performance of Speed and teammate Tonio Liuzzi. After the European GP, where both drivers crashed out in the waterlogged conditions, Speed and Tost had a flaming row and the American alleged that Tost was 'out of control' and had physically accosted him.
Speed was testing for the team at Mugello last week but had already said that he did not want to work with Toro Rosso any more. Vettel was reportedly present at that test but did not drive the car: his first experience of the STR2 will come during Friday practices at the Hungaroring. Vettel made his F1 debut with BMW at the US GP, standing in for Kubica, and finished eighth.
Whether Vettel -- or Liuzzi, for that matter -- will continue in the Toro Rosso race seat next season remains to be seen. Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais has been linked with the Italian squad and has tested for it several times. Toro Rosso is supposedly to make a decision about Bourdais any time now, with an option on him until the end of July.