Franz Tost, manager of AlphaTauri, reveals that he insisted on signing Sebastian Vettel when the team was still called Toro Rosso.
Vettel started in Formula 1 as a test driver for BMW Sauber, before replacing Robert Kubica, who was injured in Canada, at the 2007 United States Grand Prix.
A successful first race for the German, who finished in a satisfactory eighth place, which allowed him to become the youngest driver in history to win his first point.
BMW Sauber would then release Vettel from his contract to join Toro Rosso for the remainder of the 2007 season.
The German will go down in history by winning the 2008 Italian Grand Prix with his average single seater, after his superb performance all weekend as he also took pole position the day before.
But it was not easy for Tost to bring young Vettel in 2007, as the politics of the time at BMW Sauber did not make things easy, and because some members of Toro Rosso doubted his abilities as a driver.
“Sebastian came to Toro Rosso because we needed a replacement for Sebastien Bourdais. But there were many discussions beforehand. Not everyone was convinced by him,” said Tost.
“I really wanted him, he was a top talent and from the beginning he left me with the same feeling I had from Michael Schumacher. Thank goodness Dietrich Mateschitz (co-owner of Red Bull) decided in his favor.”
“You should know that Sebastian, who used to be a BMW test driver, was involved in the political games that were going on there. BMW and Mario Theissen (former head of BMW Sauber and BMW Motorsport) wanted to keep it. The people, who worked for Sauber, they didn’t. It erased our discussions.”
That decision, of course, paid off for Toro Rosso. And Tost to reveal that “great power” of Vettel was his ability to “make some tricks” and use it to his advantage.
“Although he made a few mistakes, which the athlete must be allowed, he was fast and improved race after race, his biggest moment was his victory in Monza in 2008, when he was already stuck the day before.”
“That’s when we saw Sebastian’s great potential. One of his greatest strengths was that once he got a certain technique on the car, he carefully turned it to his liking.