Toro Rosso F1 team boss Franz Tost expects Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari to have enough experience to show their true potential by the middle of the 2010 season. The team had the least experienced driver lineup in Formula 1 this year, with Buemi graduating from test driver duties and Alguersuari being brought in as a total F1 novice to replace Sebastien Bourdais in July.
Tost admitted that STR had not intended to be in that position, and that the duo's lack of F1 mileage had hampered the team.
"Originally it was planned that we would do the year with Bourdais and Buemi," he told AUTOSPORT. "The background was that we wanted to have one experienced driver and we expected that Bourdais in his second year would become the leading driver in the team. For whatever reason, it didn't work as we expected, and therefore we decided to change the driver during the year. That meant the team had two completely new drivers in 2009 – and to change two drivers is a really big challenge because you start with zero. If the drivers are also inexperienced, the exercise is doubly difficult."
But he said he had no complaints about the situation as Toro Rosso's purpose was to develop Red Bull's young drivers – and he believes both Buemi and Alguersuari will be very competitive by late 2010.
"Dietrich Mateschitz bought this team to give young drivers a chance, and this is our philosophy," Tost said. "We have to stick to this philosophy, and I'm quite confident that from the middle of next year onward we will have a good driver lineup, because then Alguersuari will know all the tracks, and Buemi is already increasing his performance. The last few races were quite good. Alguersuari is also improving his performance, and so far I'm quite optimistic about the future."
Tost said he was not concerned by the drivers' string of late-season crashes, particularly at Suzuka where they had four accidents in two days.
"The crashes are part of the game," he said. "A young driver needs to find the limit of the car. I call it the 'crash period', and it's as important in this learning process and gaining experience as anything else. Therefore for me it's obvious that a driver sometimes has to crash. If he is a young driver, he has to learn the limit of the car – I don't have a problem with this."
Red Bull was rumored to be giving World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb a one-off F1 outing with Toro Rosso in the season finale in Abu Dhabi, but the Frenchman did not get a superlicense. Tost said he was still open to the concept of Loeb trying F1, as long as he had enough testing mileage first.
"I understand that Sebastien Loeb wants to do a Formula 1 race and I think the idea is quite good, because he is six times World Rally Champion and just the comparison between the best rally driver in the world and the best Formula 1 drivers would be quite interesting," he said. "But to do such a race, he must be prepared. That means something like three test days just to get used to everything.
"It's quite complicated even to do the starting process. We observed this with our drivers this year. It's not so easy just to come in and think you can do everything. There are so many switches and so many mappings you have to take care of. Apart from that, to drive Formula 1 cars nowadays is not so easy. But if Loeb has the time to test and to be prepared, there's no reason why he couldn't do a proper job."
After failing to get a superlicense, Loeb said he felt he had missed his opportunity to try F1 and would not seek another chance.