Normally, we’d give you the links to those pieces, but in this case one of them doesn’t seem to have a link and the other is in German. So here’s the BBC and its summarization of the two:
Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi is being lined up for a seat alongside Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull in 2012, according to reports in his native Switzerland. The Blick newspaper claims that Helmut Marko, boss of Red Bull’s driver programme, was highly impressed by Buemi’s drive in the Canadian GP for Toro Rosso, which is Red Bull’s ‘junior’ team.
Full story: Blick
Williams appear likely to retain veteran Rubens Barrichello, the most experienced driver in F1 history, and German rookie Nico Hulkenberg for the 2011 season. The team have had a disappointing first half of the 2010 campaign but are looking on Hulkenberg as a long-term investment.
Full story: Auto Motor und Sport (in German)
So, can you guess which one I don’t think you’ll believe?
First, though, the usual caveat. We’re talking rumors here, folks, but the BBC is a pretty standard source so I think its tossing them about puts them into the public debate domain. And you have to keep in mind the different contexts that might be involved. With the Buemi item (which is the one I think you won’t believe, by the way), we may have a case of home country boosterism going on. But I think it is instructive to note that his home country is starting to see enough in him to build this rumor (or are his country people so desperate and worried he’s going to lose his spot?).
The Williams one, I think, is more interesting in regards to Hulkenberg, who came into Formula 1 this season with a pretty stellar set of credentials. But he’s pretty solidly failed to live up to those expectations. So his being touted somewhere for a continued seat — and in the context of Williams looking at him as a long-term investment — says something.
It’s up to us, of course, to decide what.
In my mind, the team’s considering keeping Rubens speaks to me more about the lack of depth in the F1 driver ranks than anything else. We’re all quick to tout our favorite drivers who aren’t on the grid right now — Anthony Davidson, Jacques Villeneuve, Paul di Resta, Scoot* Speed (that’s Grace’s) — but are they really better choices than the drivers out there?
On Buemi, I’d be willing to say his Canadian drive helped keep him in his seat this season, although I still think a string of non-points finishes could result in his being booted elsewhere. I don’t see it securing him a spot at Red Bull.
I also have to wonder if rumors about Toro Rosso maybe becoming a Ferrari “B” team, perhaps run by Americans, isn’t fueling talk that says, essentially, “Toro Rosso is still worthwhile as a driver development program.” I’m not convinced it is, as things stand. It had looked like Jaime Alguersuari was taking steps forward, but he seems to have leveled off again.
Anyone think they see a kernel of truth to these pieces? Is there something else going on that might be fueling this talk?
* Yes, we know it’s Scott, but Grace insists his name should be Scoot.