Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has admitted that he is surprised by rookie Sebastien Buemi's early-season form, despite his belief that the rookie would emerge as a regular points scorer later in the year.
Buemi scored points in both the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix, and despite driving into the back of Red Bull stablemate Sebastian Vettel last Sunday, Tost has been impressed by his lack of rookie errors.
"We did not expect him to score points during the first three races," Tost told AUTOSPORT. "We expected him to increase his performance from race to race and then he can score in the second half of the season. But we are not dissatisfied if it's in the first half of the season as long as the amount of points is doubled or tripled in the second half.
"In China he did a good job. In really difficult circumstances, he didn't make a major mistake. Once he did touch Sebastian Vettel, but touching a Red Bull car is all part of the education process with Toro Rosso! If he goes on to win a race after doing this then it's fine."
Tost put Buemi's strong start down to the preparation offered both by Toro Rosso and the Red Bull driver development program. The Swiss driver has been on Red Bull's books since 2005 and completed some 4,600 miles of winter testing for STR and Red Bull Racing over the winter.
"You can't come into F1 without doing a lot of testing mileage, and we can't do any tests during the season any more," said Tost. "We pushed very hard to get him out, even if it was with the old car just to get used to the slick tires and learn about the techniques of how an F1 car works and how the engineers work.
"It's important to learn how the engineers are thinking and for them to understand how the driver is thinking so that the team comes together. That is an important process and one that some underestimate.
"But the winter testing was only part of the program. There was also the [Red Bull Technologies] simulator and the physical training. Everything which is important to prepare a young driver for F1."
Tost added that although the team did take a risk by employing an F1 rookie to replace Sebastian Vettel, the 20-year-old's performances throughout his time as a Red Bull driver proved he was worth the gamble.
"He had some very good races in GP2 and he did win races," Tost added. "It was a combination of his good GP2 results, his performances during the tests and that he is a Red Bull driver. All of these factors together took us to the decision that we should take a risk on him."