Toyota driver Sebastien Buemi says he is not underestimating Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ potential on its WEC debut, saying he is staying ‘humble and realistic’ in his approach to racing against the American squad.
Buemi is coming into the Eight Hours of Portimao as a leader in the overall championship, having defeated Alpine to win the opening round of the championship at Spa-Francorchamps.
While Toyota only had Alpine and its grandfathered ORECA-built LMP1 to reckon with at Spa, the second round at Portimao brings an entirely new adversary as Glickenhaus debuts its 007 Le Mans Hypercar.
While the true pace from the twin-turbocharged V8 American car remains to be seen, Buemi says that he is taking his new adversary seriously, although he believes the American privateer will have a steep learning curve ahead.
“Very humble, and realistic, you know,” Buemi told MotorsportWeek.com “I’m really happy and I welcome competition, because I think it’s better for the championship. It’s better for us in general. So I’m happy with that.
“However, you know, I know how hard it was for us, so I don’t expect it to be so much easier for them either. So yeah, expect them also to have some issues, like we did. So but who knows what they will be able to do?
“I’m not the kind of guy that says, you know, it’s gonna be easy for us, no, not at all. I I try to stay humble and see what happens after [practice] and throughout the weekend, but I’m happy that they’ve come and even more happy that they can come with two cars in Monza and Le Mans.”
The three-time Le Mans winner says he has identified a number of key areas where Toyota will be able to improve compared to its performance at Spa.
“I think as an operational point, we didn’t do such a good job. We had an unsafe release, we had an issue at the pitstop. We did not do a perfect execution of the race. Obviously, we had not raced since Bahrain.”
“I also think we’ve done a good job, you know. I mean, at the end of the day, we finished the race with the two cars. It’s not a given, especially having a completely new car.
“We’ve improved quite a lot the car throughout the weekend from where we started at the Prologue.
“If you look at the lap times in qualifying, they were decent, but I think in general, we’ve done a good improvement, but we need to work on making sure we can execute the race weekend without any mistakes, penalties or whatever.”
The former F1 driver also reckons that Toyota has even less margin for error than it had in Spa, now that the opposition also includes Glickenhaus.
“So we obviously had Alpine as a competitor [at Spa], and they did not finish far behind. But what you really see is that you can not afford any mistakes or penalties or stuff like that, so it is up to us to make sure we execute the weekend better than we did at Spa.”
The flipside of that, of course, is that strong execution for Toyota means that the Japanese squad will be able to take advantage of any mistakes or issues that Glickenhaus experience in their maiden championship outing.
Even despite Glickenhaus’ lack of experience racing on world championship level, Buemi remains adamant that the newcomers are not to be underestimated.
“I’m trying to stay humble and realistic,” he repeated. “You know, they can also come here and be very strong.
“They have Joest as a team to run the car, which is a strong team, we’ve know that and we’ve seen it in the past.
“Again, we will see, but what we want to do is focus on ourselves, make sure we do the best we can with what we have and make sure that when we finish the race on Sunday, we don’t have any regrets and know that we’ve done the best we could.”