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Massa says Alguersuari debut is ‘wrong’
Massa says Alguersuari debut is ‘wrong’
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jul 2009   |  8:34 pm GMT  |  73 comments

Felipe Massa is one of a number of drivers to react with concern to the debut of 19 year old Jaime Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso. Alguersuari has done very little mileage in an F1 car, and what he has done was in a straight line, but he qualifies for a superlicence because he won last season’s British F3 championship.

“For me he’s too young,” said Massa. “He’s never driven a Formula 1 car, or he has driven it in a straight line, or whatever. For me it’s wrong. It’s not good for him. He can burn himself very quickly.”

Massa started at the age of 20 with Sauber, but had enjoyed a whole winter of testing before his first race. He had a troubled first year and was dropped by Sauber, so went to Ferrari as a test driver. He has never really shaken off the tag of ‘wild child’ he picked up in that incident filled first season, despite fighting for last year’s championship.

It is a huge ask for Alguersuari, to learn simple things like the steering wheel, will take time, as Jenson Button pointed out,

“It’s not just about driving quick, there’s a lot more to it and I’m sure that he doesn’t understand all the electronics on an F1 car. The steering wheel to start with is very complicated and to get the pitstops sorted in two days is going to be very difficult. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to take in. Not having driven an F1 car around a circuit, I’m surprised he’s been allowed to race this weekend. I say good luck to him – it’s a risk he’s willing to take and for his sake I hope he does a good job.”

I have heard both Button and Massa say in the past that on reflection they came in too young, but both survived and had long careers.

We will all be watching to see how early or, late, he brakes for turn one on his first flying lap tomorrow. I shall be paying close attention to that first flying lap. It will tell us a lot. I expect him to do a lot of laps on Friday.

Alguersuari’s fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso was more positive than Massa or Button, saying that the 19 year old is a talent and should not worry about his age or experience, “I’m in favour of  beginning as young as possible, ” said the man who once held the record as youngest pole sitter, winner and world champion, before even younger men came along. Such is the march of the youth cult in F1.

How close will Alguersuari get to Buemi’s Q1 time? Send me your answers and we’ll see who’s closest on Saturday afternoon.

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  1. Drewe says:

    He will be 1.5 sec off – the car is good, he is fast enough, but that last 1.5 second is going to take a long time!

    1. Frenchie says:

      He’ll be so slow I can’t wait to hear Legard’s blunders. :-)

      Alguersuari will be 2 to 3 seconds slower and will remind us of Yuji Ide’s performances in the Super Aguri back in ’06.

  2. Hazrin says:

    point all of ‘burden’ to the current f1 rules not Alguersuari

  3. Kent Paul says:

    James, brilliant website, just get a forum, please!

    I’m going to be the first to say that Alguersuari will out quailify Buemi.

    Go Jamie :tophat:

  4. Daniel Hoyes says:

    It’s not the age that’s a problem – it’s the fact he’s never driven the car round a corner before! I think the gap will be 1.2 seconds…

  5. Boston F1 Fan says:

    - I agree. Bourdais is the real loser in all this. He should have been given a shot in the Toro Rosso with the upgrades.

    1. Boston F1 Fan says:

      +1.7 seconds

    2. Paul Lewis Gittins says:

      It’s a really hard thing to take on for Bordais.. As a multiple champion in other formulae, with the experience,

      “so what you are saying to me is that a 19 year old who has never driven an F1 car other than in a straight line is a better bet than me. OK.”

  6. Dans says:


    ps i preferred the old site.

  7. Mich says:

    I’m sure as o how close he will get to Buemi this weekend, but I’m certain that he will adapt quicker than most expect him to do in the first races.

    Having tracked his career him since he was 14, I’m convinced he is a great talent. Back then there was a racing event joining about every top Spanish racer excepting Alonso, and in both races, despite being he youngest, he did extremely well, winning one and being on the podium in the other one.

    He reminds me of Schumacher. He may not have the raw pace of Raikkonen, but has a very cold mind, is very mature and handles pressure very well, and what is very important, he knows when he has to drive in a conservative way and bring the car home, very much like Schumi or Alonso. He ain’t one of those drivers overriding.

    All that said, if they consider it as already his “make it or break it”…well, that’s the wrong approach obviously. I hope things will be as Tost said, and they will take it as if its just testing. Not an ideal situation, but with the testing ban, and their dis-conformity with the “never-happy” Bourdais, they had very few alternatives.

    This guy will shine in his F1 career, which I expect to be longer and more successful than what most say. We shall see…

    Ah, and lets remember Raikkonen had just 20 races in formulas before joining F1, JA (Jaime, not you James ;))has 118.

    PS: Ok, I’ll risk, I’ll say he will be 3tenths slower in Q1.
    But I expect him to be on par already by the European GP, a track where he won already last year.

  8. jeremy says:


  9. Simon Lake says:

    OK so F1 teams are not able to test their current cars any more. However, there must be many, many older F1 cars in private hands all over the world.

    What’s stopping someone like Alguersuari going and driving a 2008 spec Red Bull, for example, on a private circuit and getting all the testing laps he could desire? Surely each of the F1 teams would have some kind of loophole like this set up, wouldn’t they?

    1. Tbgallant says:

      Very good point! Why can’t this kid test last years car, or the previous year. Same/similar funky steering wheel, similar power. I’m sure they could even fit this years tires if they could get their hands on some.

      James, thoughts on this?

      1. Zdzisio says:

        Well, testing ban is all about tires. What a team can get from Bridgestone, except on race weekends, is so called presentational tires. They are rock hard and allow a team to do some laps on PR events but nothing more. In such conditions car handling is completely different than “normal” F1 car. Because of that such tests would be useless anyway. Using simulator is much better idea and I guess Jamie has been stuck doing so for last couple days

  10. parrafone says:

    He will be 0.120 FASTER than Buemi.

    There you go!

  11. Steve Clark says:

    I’ll be mightily impressed if he’s less than a second off Beumi. I’ll go with 1.5. For the sake of his career I hope we’re all pleasantly surprised.

  12. George says:

    I’ll go for +0.8, I also wonder if the upgrades will be good enough to get buemi into Q2.

    I still remember watching the first practice session of the season and Buemi was all over the place, on quite a similar (dusty) track too. Of course Buemi had had a small amount of track time by that point in winter testing, but I think if Alguesuari (we really need to think of a nickname for him) manages to keep it out of the barriers he should about get up to speed over the weekend.

    1. Michael C says:

      how about Algie? Good point well made by others elsewhere about private testing. How about half a second slower?

    2. Snail says:

      Nick: algae

  13. GP says:

    I think he will be a least 1.5 sec off Buemi’s time.

    I must say I’m surprised that he’s allowed to race with so little experience. It doesn’t say much about safety considerations. Where’s Mosley and his safety above all else?

    I just hope he doesn’t end up affecting the outcome of the championship when the leaders come around to lap him. Or worse, do a Riccardo Palletti.

    1. Tim says:

      Riccardo Paletti died at the start of the 1982 Canadian GP when he struck the stationary Ferrari of Didier Pironi, which had qualified on pole but stalled at the start. Paletti had qualified his Osella at the back of the field and was running at high speed when he hit Pironi. Paletti didn’t see the Ferrari until it was too late to take evasive action, which could have happened to any driver regardless of experience – I’m not sure how this constitutes a rookie mistake.

    2. supervly says:

      Co it seems in the initial test session he was only .02 secs slower than Buemi
      Not bad at all

  14. Ben Parker says:

    I say he’ll be about a second off the pace of Buemi, and I agree with the points above about the whole situation being harsh on Bourdais. He should have been given a go with the upgraded STR.

  15. Domhnall Morrissey says:

    I’d say half a second slower than Buemi if he gets a good trouble free run in practice.

  16. TinyJim says:

    I am going to stick my head out and say +.3 at worst.

    F1 cars aint what they used to be :)

  17. the question is how far will he be off the guy in 19th whoever it is…
    i’ll say 0.6 seconds off of fisi (19th) and 1.2 secs off of buemi (17th)

  18. Stuart Fraser says:

    Why is everyone repeating the false story that Alguersuari has never driven an F1 car other than in a straight line before? Can nobody be bothered to check autosport’s nonsense?

    He has.

  19. John says:

    A little ironic that Massa is so vocal about this.

    I don’t necessarily disagree, but I’ll hold my judgment until the weekend is over.

    Jaime could be a collosal failure. He could be a huge success (beat Buemi, would be my criteria for that). Or, he could end up somewhere in the middle, not really making any waves.

    We shall find out soon enough.

    I think Button’s point is well made, though. The technical nitty gritty of driving a F1 car are as important, if nor more important, than driving talent. Not having any real F1 experience is bound to hurt Jaime, even if he’s been sitting in a simulator the last coupel weeks.

  20. Peter says:

    Alguersuari will be +1.1 seconds from Buemi. I think he is too young, but in F1 it is so difficult to get in you sometimes don’t have the luxury of waiting until you are ‘ready’ – you have to take the opportunity when it presents itself.

  21. Ferrim says:

    If you remember, Alonso had little F1 experience back in 2001. Minardi didn’t test through the winter. Yet he qualified 19th at Melbourne

    I think Alguersuari will be less than a second slower than Buemi, probably around 0.5s.

  22. Tevin says:

    A tenth quicker.

  23. Radoye says:

    We shouldn’t be concerned how far off the pace will Alguersuari be, we should rather worry that he doesn’t crash into someone during the weekend. And let’s hope he gets through it without injuring himself.

    If it all goes well he might turn out OK for the latter part of the season, once he gathers a bit of experience and confidence, but if this first outing ends up in a disaster i’m afraid we’ll lose him for good. Which would be a shame because it looks like this kid’s got some talent…

  24. Dermot k says:

    This will prove to be a huge mistake..this guy is gonna have to be a talent the likes of which we have never seen before if he’s gonna get anywhere near a second off his team mate.
    Toro Rosso must never have heard the saying..fail to prepare – prepare to fail.
    There is no way this kid is prepared.

  25. Chris says:

    I’d say he will come in .8 seconds off Buemi’s time.

  26. Just says:

    I’ll throw in my guess: Q1 margin of 8 tenths.

  27. Ray.C. says:

    0.2 secs either side of SB.

  28. Simon says:

    I reckon at least 1.6 seconds behind.

  29. monktonnik says:

    An interesting question. If we get it right do we get a JA.F1 toaster?


    Although to be honest anything inside +1.3s from Buemi will be a success as this is the time deficit Bourdais had in Germany.

    I hadn’t looked at those times before. If they were running the same package, then you have to say that after a season and a half in F1, to be out qualified by a rookie by 1.3s on low fuel is pretty shameful. No amount of cries of unfair, or legal action will change those lap times.

  30. Roger says:

    2.15 behind.

    I really hope he doesn’t get in the way too much and that being thrown in like this doesn’t spoil his career.

  31. Ashley says:

    I’m going to go for 6/10

  32. Paul Lewis Gittins says:


    And then last, but finishes.

  33. Trixxy says:

    He’s clearly pretty hot stuff but I think he’ll struggle. If he finishes the session I reckon on 1.5 s but I fear he’ll run before he can walk and end up off the track.

  34. Ross Cameron says:

    ill take 1.2 secs

  35. Betbotpro says:

    I personally think hes way to young and doesnt have the experience.

    A winter test is the minimum and i also think they should bring back mid season testing so other teams get the chance to fix there issues.

    You would never have a Doctor, Engineer, Accountant, Lawyer or any skilled person at that age at the top of the sport or their area of expertise.

  36. Hello James

    I have been trying to download your excellent toolbar for Internet explorer but the page is missing. I used it all the time on my old computer so really miss it.

    Can you ask your webmaster to reinstate the download page please ?

  37. David Brown says:

    I wonder why Torro Rosso haven’t let him try last years car at a track. Surely they would have the data from previous drivers to compare him to. That wouldn’t be seen as testing as it is a completely different car but at least he would be then starting from the same position as the experienced lot did in pre-season. He would get used to brakes/steering wheel.

    Is there something in the rules about that?

  38. David Brown says:

    Oh by the way….I can’t see him being less than .5 away from Buemi, Bourdais wasn’t a slouch and he rarely managed much better.

  39. Carsten says:

    I agree, it will be a great risk, but at least I expectRed Bull has simulator, that might help to prepare him for the race, i.e. steering wheel buttons etc.

  40. Chris says:

    He will out qualify and race SB..Jaime is a real talent

  41. Racing not Politics says:

    in-season testing might well be deemed necessary after this weekend. There’s no way Alguersuari can be considered properly prepared and therefore if he has a crash-free weekend I think he’s done a fine job. Next race you can start worrying about whether he’s on Buemi’s pace

  42. Simon of Melbourne says:

    Whoa, 15 minutes left in opening practice and Jaime Alguersuari is within two tenths of Buemi…the boy is special

  43. Phil H says:

    2 Questions:
    1. Why has Brdgestone decided to change to only one step between prime & option tyres (or which team pressured them into it)?
    2. With limits on testing, how are young drivers supposed to learn how to drive an F1

    Alguersuari 1.9 slower in Q1

  44. Mich says:

    What is very interesting is that Massa &co. words will in fact benefit Jaime.

    As they will point out how difficult his task will be (joining F1 with less than 300km experience), if in the end he doesn’t do that bad he will look great, while he doesn’t deliver it will be considered normal and expected, as predicted by the Massa &co.

    So far he is doing quite well in FP1, just 2 tenths behind Buemi. He is alredy at the pace (almost) in Sectors 1 and 3, just struggling in the 2nd one, which is the trickiest.

    However by FP2, after telemetry analysis and set up work (remember that the TR guys haven’t ever yet tested which set up suits Jaime!) he will most likely sort it out.

    Looking forward to Qualifying!

  45. Mich says:

    AH, and just to correct some who said he just did straight line testing, here is the video of him lapping around Portimao back in November:


  46. Jake says:

    I don’t think Massa was being horible to Alguersuari. You’ve missed out alot of what he said. Massa knows he was lucky to get a second chance in F1 after being fired by Sauber. I think Massa see’s himself in Alguersuari, being a bit too young on debut and sometimes making mistakes. I think he was just trying to calm expectations on him.

    1. James Allen says:

      Who said anything about Massa being horrible?

      1. Jake says:

        No one, its just if you are going to quote someone, you must quote everying they say.
        You chose quotes to fit your article, but your article is giving the wrong message. Massa is not moaning about Alguersuari age, but about his experience. Nicolas Todt managed Bourdais so Massa obviously knows that Todt is upset about him being fired.
        The ‘Wild Child’ claim is about 4years out of date.

  47. TheNewNo2 says:

    As a mathematician, I shall go for pi/2 seconds, which is around 1.571s.

  48. Rob Noon says:

    i see on ITV that Rosberg has the choice of McLaren and BMW.. you got any inside info on this and do a story on this? Dont really think he will work well with Hamilton…

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m hearing more BMW than McLaren. Why would he want to drive in Hamilton’s team?

      1. Patrickl says:

        Because McLaren is probably going to build the faster car again?

  49. TinyJim says:

    lol@ people saying he would be 1+ seconds off!

    F1 cars are no where near as hard to drive as some like to make out. Ok they will be tricky, but for an experienced driver like Alg it isn’t a problem!

  50. YuppieScum says:

    Two things : first is that while he’ll have done oodles of simulator time, and likely driven some older F1 machinery around real tracks, he’ll never have driven an F1 car into turn 1 with 19 other more experienced drivers around him – this, I feel, will be the true test of his worth, very much make or break.

    Second is regarding engines – each driver gets 8 engines to last the season, so how does this work when you start halfway through? Does it get pro-rated down, does he have to use Bordais ‘ old engines, or what?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes he takes Bourdais’ allocation

  51. Zeloveur says:

    Why do some people call him “Jamie”. His name is Jaime (pronounced “hi-may” if you can’t say the spanish “J”)…

  52. Fausto Cunha says:

    I think he will be close to Buemi, something around 0.400 in buemi´s favour.


  53. Michael C says:

    Well so far and it’s early days (Friday lunchtime UK) he is already only 0.3 seconds away! Go Algie! Yet another turn of events for Bernies script to go with the closing up of the championship – funny how more often than not they seem to end going down to the wire

  54. Rick J says:

    I recall all these concerns being expressed when Kimi Raikonen showed up in F1. He had no problems as I recall. This is not the F1 of the ’60′s when a virtual amateur could show up with a used Lotus and race in a Grand Prix. This young man will have spent time in a simulator comparable to preperations for the first moon landing. I reckon +0.38 on Buemi. He will be going slower than he could to avoid doing something silly.

  55. jw1980 says:

    1.2 seconds slower. Of course must not forget the possibilty that Jaime may not complete a flying lap.

  56. Jake says:

    +0.4 seconds

  57. Charlie B says:

    I predict that Jamie will be 0.657 off of Buemi’s pace.

    Buemi’s time + 0.657


    0.657 is about 4.381 (circuit length km) times 0.15 (how much slower per kilometer I believe he will be)

  58. The Limit says:

    If the talent and raw speed is there, then age and inexperience will soon get ironed out. I remember in 2001 some questioned Peter Sauber for signing Kimi Raikkonen, who had yet been
    issued with a superlicense from the FIA.
    Not only was Raikkonen ready ofcourse, but he would go on to replace two multiple world champions in Hakkinen and Schumacher, and would himself become champion in 2007.
    I can understand some of the drivers points of view. I would be concerned going toe to toe at 200mph with a driver with that low amount of track time, but at the end of the day, with the 2009 rules on testing as they are, how else is this guy supposed to learn?
    Playing on Nintendo or what!!


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