Despite not officially becoming a member of the Red Bull race team until his duties with Scuderia Toro Rosso are completed at the end of the season, the young German who has already signed an RBR contract will test for the team later in the month at Jerez. The news of Vettel’s test has heightened speculation that David Coulthard could be dropped prior to the end of the season, allowing both teams to get a jump start on familiarising themselves with their new drivers.
Vettel has shown strong motivation in recent races, and his qualifying performance in Valencia was an impressive showing from the 21 year old. Conversely, the media has been whipped up into an almost frenzy with talk over Coulthard’s immediate future with Red Bull Racing. The Scot announced his retirement at the British Grand Prix earlier in the year, but vowed to give the remainder of the season his very best of efforts. However, 2008 will not be seen as one of Coulthard’s finest seasons, with silly accidents brought about by audacious overtaking moves that didn’t stick.
It would of course be beneficial to both teams if their 2009 drivers started early, allowing them more time to get to know and work with their future engineers and cars. However, the likelihood of Coulthard going against his word and retiring early seems remote, especially given that the Scot has produced Red Bull’s highest finishes so far, one of which came earlier this season.
It will be the first touch with Red Bull, working with the guys and we will see. Obviously my focus is all on this year, which is why I wanted to have a last day in Jerez to shakedown in our [STR] car again with our boys before launching for the last couple of races. Sebastian Vettel.
The Jerez test will also see Super Aguri refugee Takuma Sato and Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi test for the junior squad with an eye on impressing enough to get the second seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso next year. And given the lack of confirmation so far on Sebastien Bourdais, there could even be two seats up for grabs should the French Champ Car champion be ousted at the end of the year.