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GP Week : Issue 54
Repsol behind bourdais SEBASTIEN Bourdais looks set to be replaced at Scuderia Toro Rosso at the Hungarian Grand Prix by one of the youngest drivers in F1 history. Bourdais’ future in F1 has been in doubt for some time, but over the course of the weekend, and fuelled by a failure of his Toro Rosso team to comprehensively deny the rumours of his departure before the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Frenchman’s future in the sport now looks bleaker than ever. The man rumoured to be stepping into the Frenchman’s seat is 19-year-old Spaniard, and Toro Rosso third driver, Jaime Alguersuari. Despite his inexperience, GPWeek understands that he will be confirmed as an F1 driver in the coming week. Alguersuari’s leap into Formula 1 will come in part due to his ties with Spanish fuel company Repsol, who we understand has offered to supply both Red Bull teams for free should the Spaniard be given a race seat. Also linked to the Toro Rosso drive have been Nelson Piquet (see separate story) and WRC Champion Sebastien Loeb. “If Toro Rosso need a driver I’d love to help out,”Loeb told French newspaper l’Equipe. “I’ve heard talk of this possibility for Sebastien Bourdais. But nothing has happened. You shouldn’t think of me at the starting line at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Who knows, as long as the Formula 1 and rallying calendars don’t overlap anything is possible. If there is a place at Toro Rosso I’m available.” Loeb tested for Toro Rosso’s sister F1 team Red Bull Racing over the winter and impressed with his immediate pace and feedback. He later qualified his comments to state that he is fully focussed on winning a sixth WRC crown. “I know what my priority is: it is the World Rally Championship. But what would you expect a driver to answer if asked whether he would like to drive a Formula 1 car? That said, with four rallies still to come, we have our work cut out if we want to secure a sixth Drivers’title and a fifth Manufacturers’ crown. For the moment, my energy is fully focused on that goal.” With the WRC season finishing before the end of the F1 season, there is still a chance for Loeb to make his F1 debut at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.