Alguersuari prepares to prove his worth 24 Jul 2009
Formula One rookie Jaime Alguersuari goes into Fridays two practice sessions in Hungary determined to prove that he deserves his place with Toro Rosso, after his arrival as Sebastien Bourdais replacement received a cautious welcome from his peers on Thursday.
The 19-year old Spaniard, whose name is pronounced Heimi Al-gay-shuari, raised a few eyebrows when he revealed that he has only done two straight-line tests in a Formula One car.
To be honest, I have done just two aero tests, he said. For sure I am really happy to be here, to learn the car and learn a new situation but at the end it is just another car for me, another car in my racing career, in my life. I am very happy to drive and I am looking forward to it.
I know this track. I raced here before. I am quite lucky for that. I know more or less all of the tracks in Europe but obviously the overseas ones I dont know them really, like Japan, Singapore and Brazil, so for sure it is a good year to learn the tracks in Formula One as well."
He is the reigning British Formula Three champion, and the latest graduate from Red Bulls young driver programme, but his peers are concerned that he has not actually done a full test session in a Formula One car.
I started when I was 20, said championship leader Jenson Button, and I had done a fair bit of testing. Its difficult, isnt it? If you are offered an opportunity to race in F1, you are going to take it. But it could destroy his career if it goes badly. If it goes well, fantastic. But its a knife edge.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton agreed.
When Juan Pablo Montoya left McLaren in 2006 there was a chance I would do the last three races but at that time I had only done straight-line running and that would have been the worst move of my career, he said. Before my debut I did eight solid tests. Formula One is difficult, and it takes preparation to build the confidence that you need to drive a car well.
German Grand Prix winner Mark Webber was also sceptical. "I've never been a big fan of Formula One being a learning school but it seems like it is these days," the Australian said. "When you arrive in F1 you should be ready. It's not a place to learn. Anyway, some guys are doing that but it's harder without testing these days. I think we're going to see a bit more of it."
There was support from Alguersuaris other Red Bull stablemate Sebastian Vettel, however, who made his Formula One debut at Indianapolis in 2007 aged 19. He blamed the system.
"I heard Mark was not so pleased about the fact that Jaime is driving this weekend," the German said. "I think in the end if there is anything to criticise then I think it is the rules. As you can see, you end up having a situation that a driver is entering F1 without having done a single test. So I think it is extremely difficult for young drivers, independent from their age, the next generation, to get to F1 as you have no chance to prove yourself. You have only one or two days.
"If you start skiing, you know how hard it is after one or two days to really know what is going on for instance. Therefore, I wish him all the best and I think he has enough time, but for sure it is not the easiest way to go.
"In the end you have to find your own way, and I think there is more than one person who gave him advice to just take his time. That is the most important thing. If he is really quick enough or not, you can't really tell by one race. It will come or it doesn't. Every other driver has made this experience in their own way."