Shortly after Bourdais was confirmed by Toro Rosso for the new season, Sato's manager blamed the Scuderia officials for basing their decision on the sponsorship money brought in by the 4-time Champ Car champion and not on racing skills. However, Mateschitz thinks otherwise.
“There were no significant alternatives to Bourdais. Sato was doing well in testing, but he would have started where Bourdais started a year ago. Bourdais had some good races and very competitive qualifying last season, but also some bad luck,” argued the Red Bull boss.
“When you invest in a driver for one year and he is doing reasonably well, it makes sense to work with him for another year. He has the potential to make the best of his second year,” added Mateschitz.
Weeks before extending Bourdais' deal in Formula 1, the Faenza-based team made no secret from considering sponsorship money in their decision to appoint its 2nd driver for 2009. In times of economic regression such as these, the driver able to secure the higher amount of money for a full-season campaign in the series would have had the best chances.
Bourdais is expected to make his first on-track appearance as official 2009 F1 driver later this week, at Jerez, testing a 2008-spec Toro Rosso car. The team is yet to officially unveil their 2009 challenger.