STR turned up in Australia off of the back of a successful winter testing programme which has seen them threaten to challenge the leading midfield runners on a regular basis. They also benefited from driver continuity, with Buemi starting his third season with the Italian based squad and Alguersuari staring his second full year with the team.
As the season got under way in Melbourne, STR got off to a very good start with Buemi getting through to Q3, starting 10th and Alguersuari in 12th. Both drivers made in roads during the race with Buemi picking up 4 points for 8th while his team-mate just missed out in 11th. Although Buemi was happy to score points, he was less happy with Alguersuari after the two made contact in the first corner damaging the Swiss driver’s car. “It’s a shame that my team-mate and I made contact at the first corner. It’s not the first time it has happened, so I think we will be having a chat about it after I’ve watched a recording of the incident!”
The early qualifying pace soon escaped from the STR6 but strangely the worse they do in qualifying, the better they do in the race. Buemi has achieved an impressive 4 points finishes since Australia, all from 16th or lower on the grid. In Hungary, thanks to a 5 place grid penalty and saving his option tyres for the race, started on the back row to finish an incredible 8th in Torro Rosso’s 100th race.
In contrast, his team-mate has had a lot more pressure mounting on his young shoulders. With a large Daniel Ricciado shaped shadow looming over the drivers, it was looking desperate for the Spaniard with the opening rounds – 11th still his best finish. He’s struggled in qualifying in particular, regularly being ‘the one from a big team’ to exit in Q1. In Canada he put on a Buemiesque charge through the field going from 18th to 8th. To prove this was no fluke, he did exactly the same in the following race in Valencia, only stopping once for tyres, his performance was one to stand out in the dullest race of the year.
With Daniel Ricciado joining the struggling HRT team for the remainder of the year, the pressure has lifted a little off of the pair. Whilst speculation about the driver’s futures will continue, Buemi is focusing on catching the Force India’s and Sauber’s ahead of them in the constructors standings. “The objective at the start of the season was to finish eighth in the championship,” he told AUTOSPORT. “We were seventh for a long time but now we have lost a place to Force India, so we are now eighth.
“It’s really important that we continue to improve the car. This is the key during the second half of the season. If we can bring some new parts that work well on the car, it should be no problem to keep doing what we have been doing so far. If we don’t improve the car, it is going to be hard.”