Californian racer Scott Speed has opened his mouth again, and that can only mean one thing: He’s annoyed at somebody or something and wants to have a moan about it. This happens probably once or twice a year and the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver has developed a bit of spoiled child reputation among the paddock fraternity. But is his recent sound off actually nonsense, or is Scott right to be paranoid about his position within the team?
Let’s go back to the start of the year, where team boss Gerhard Berger refused to divulge the driver line up for quite a while. Toro Rosso were among the last of the teams to announce their drivers for 2007, each time Berger refusing to answer the obvious questions thrown at him, and all the time letting others test the car. Even triple ChampCar champion Sebastien Bourdais got a run in the new car. Eventually though, it was announced that the 2006 team would remain, and Vitantonio Liuzzi was allowed to race alongside pal Scott Speed for another year.
However, as Scott has said today, this wasn’t even the beginnings of his disgruntlement though. But before we get to his comments, we should remind ourselves that at the European Grand Prix yesterday, both drivers failed to get past the third lap as both had incidents that resulted in their retirements. The weather was atrocious, to the point where Charlie Whiting threw the safety car and then the red flag. But only after Speed shot off at turn one, followed closely behind by his team mate who almost hit a tractor in the gravel trap.
Following the race, the Toro Rosso post-race statement read as follows: “Nothing to say today.” The only other text on the page was a translation of the remark in Italian. Nice.
Franz Tost has lambasted the drivers by saying that only good drivers completed the race, which in a way is compounded by the sister teams result. Red Bull managed to claim third and fifth with their experienced drivers Mark Webber and David Coulthard respectively. It is perfectly possible that Tost is correct in his statement, but you have to wonder why then, these two were hired in the first place? It isn’t like their ages and experience weren’t known before they signed on the line.
And now today Speed has made some bold statements to the press regarding his future at the Italian-based team. Speaking to SpeedTV, Scott remarked the following:
Gerhard and Franz have their own ideas about what they want to do with their future, and they say things accordingly. It’s clear that from my bosses me and Tonio both have very little support. It’s been that way for the last two years, and it’s a lot more now.
At some point I said I don’t care – if I’m not in F1 next year, if I’m with a different team, it’s okay for me. It’s actually made me lot more relaxed and a lot more calm, and I think I’m producing better results, actually. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read the press and know that Franz and Gerhard are pushing like hell to get rid of me and Tonio. Scott Speed.
Well, if they weren’t thinking that previously, Scott, they almost certainly are now!
It is quite clear that Berger is under pressure to get the STR team to perform. There were mumourings earlier in the year that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz may well be selling his share of the junior team, although these rumours have so far remained to be untrue. Putting Bourdais in the car may help, as his experience with racing in general will provide a big boost for the outfit.
There are a couple of names that we’re interested in, where we know they are able to do a good job and one of them is Sebastien Bourdais, another one is Sebastian Vettel and hopefully we’re going to see some more possibilities and we’re going to check everything very carefully and then make a decision: what is the right thing for us for the future. Gerhard Berger.
Those were the words of Berger at the race this weekend. So it seems that Scott’s paranoia may be correctly founded. According to one source, STR have until the end of the month to secure a contract with Bourdais for next year, so I’m guessing that rumour will either come to fruition or get brushed under the carpet. But regarding the second seat? Well the team would do well in keeping some consistency going and retaining one of its drivers. However, it does seem that Tonio is doing the better out of the two of them. Having said that though, he too has made mistakes and isn’t leagues ahead of Speed.
What should STR do? What would you do if you were the boss? Replace one and keep one? Or replace both? Either way, I’m certain next years team will have a different line up.