German Sebastian Vettel will replace Scott Speed for the rest of the season at Scuderia Toro Rosso, the Faenza-based team announced on Tuesday.
Vettel’s first race for Toro Rosso will be on Sunday in Hungary, the Formula One team being unhappy with Speed’s performances, the American failing to clinch a single point in 28 races. The 20-year-old racer became the youngest driver in Formula One history to take a point when he replaced BMW Sauber team-mate Robert Kubica in the US Grand Prix this June.
At Torro Rosso he will start off with Vitantonio Liuzzi as team drivers, after being the reserve for Nick Heidfeld and Poland’s Kubica since last year. According to recent media reports, the Heppenheim-born driver has been negotiating a move to the Italian team since last week, but BMW officials didn’t confirm the speculations until today.
BMW Sauber commended Vettel, the team’s motorsport director Mario Theissen saying this is a proper move for the young driver which has a bright future ahead of him. “He did very well for us as test and reserve driver. We have built him up and encouraged him for many years and to now hinder him as he goes further in his career would be in contradiction to our belief in building talents,” Theissen said. ”There has long been co-operation between Red Bull and BMW about Sebastian Vettel's support,” Theissen also said referring to the material support offered by the energy drink producer.
Vettel arrives at Toro Rosso in a time of turmoil and internal fighting, an atmosphere that surely doesn’t favour performance. Scott Speed is in the center of this turmoil, the 24-year-old driver accusing the team’s management of offering little support for him and Vitantonio Liuzzi.
The bubble bursted after Germany’s Grand Prix at Nuerburgring, where Speed skidded off the track during the early laps. “It is quite clear that Tonio and I receive very little support from our bosses,” the American driver said. “As far as my future in F1 is concerned, you couldn't pay me enough money to race for those two people again,” he added. (press release)