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GP Week : Issue 27
> F1NEWS> th Nick? Bourdais out after Monza? Post-Italian GP tests may reveal more than first thought THE rumoured Red Bull driver carrousel took a step towards clarity at the Belgian Grand Prix following recent suggestions that David Coulthard was set to call an early end to his Formula 1 career after the Italian Grand Prix. GPWeek now understands that Red Bull Racing itself is set to stick with its current driver line-up of David Coulthard and Mark Webber for the remainder of the season, but that sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso may yet see some changes made before the end of the year. Paddock talk in Belgium suggested that Sebastien Bourdais has been handed a set of results-based objectives which he must fulfil by the end of the European F1 season at Monza this weekend. Should he fail to do so, his seat will be filled for the remainder of the season by drivers Toro Rosso intends to evaluate for its 2009 campaign. Toro Rosso admitted in the run-up to the Belgian Grand Prix that it was set to test Takuma Sato and Sebastien Buemi at the post-Italian Grand Prix test in Jerez, as revealed previously by GPWeek. While the team itself has said that this “We won’t have technical stability next year and stability is something positive. You always have to make the trade off between different priorities or different criteria. Today was the performance we expect.” Should BMW take the plunge and opt not to hold onto Heidfeld, the German has been tentatively linked to both Renault and Toro Rosso, with BMW linked to GP2 title rivals Bruno Senna and Giorgio Pantano. Meanwhile GPWeek understands that BMW has maintained some level of option on the future services of Sebastien Vettel, who made his debut for the team at the 2007 US Grand Prix. Although the impressive youngster is committed to Red Bull Racing for 2009, there is speculation that he may yet return to BMW in 2010 to replace the Ferrari-bound Kubica. test is to allow them to weigh up its driver options for 2009 in light of the departure of Sebastian Vettel to Red Bull Racing, GPWeek understands that the result of the Sato/Buemi shootout may also determine which driver gets the nod for the potential replacement of Bourdais in 2008. The Frenchman narrowly missed out on a spectacular podium finish in Belgium, but told GPWeek that his failure to capitalise on his excellent drive had not helped his situation. “It’s one of those situations where there is so much to lose in the last few turns. I was not exactly in a strong position because I need to make sure I get some results and some finishes in these conditions, but the smallest mistake or misjudgement and you’re out. I did exactly what I should have done, but conditions were the way they were and it was very unfortunate. “But it’s been a strong performance all weekend, a very strong race and the team should be very happy and proud of themselves because they did a great job again and had both cars in the points. It’s very good, but just difficult to swallow.” Speculation surrounding Bruno Senna’s potential Toro Rosso involvement has also refused to die down, with the rumour surrounding the potential exit of Sebastien Bourdais giving further emphasis to talk that Senna may make his Formula 1 debut for the team at the 2008 season finale in Brazil.