Posted on July 20, 2009
Toro Rosso boss expects ‘nothing’ from Alguersuari | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

Toro Rosso has confirmed today that 19 year old Jaime Alguesuari will replace Sebastien Bourdais from this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.

In a frank and open statement by the team, Alguersuari admitted that this would be one of the most difficult debuts ever in F1, while team boss Franz Tost said that he expects ‘nothing’ from the teenager, at least for the first three races. In other words, “There’s no pressure, but there is,”

Tost said, ”I am well aware that over the next few months the team and Jaime will face a major challenge, especially because of the testing ban. But Red Bull is always ready for a new challenge. I do not expect anything from him for at least his first three races, during which he has to get used to the car, the team and to the Formula 1 environment.”

Alguersuari said, “I am aware that I’m facing a very tough challenge, because coming into Formula 1 is never easy, coming into Formula 1 in the middle of a season is even harder and doing so without any testing is really difficult. But already I feel that I am getting great support from the team, who have quite a reputation for looking after rookie drivers.”

Starting mid season is extremely tricky, even for a driver with some experience, if you think back to the problems Justin Wilson had moving from Minardi to Jaguar mid-season, or Anthony Davidson had joining Minardi mid season.

Against that, in a good car, anything is possible and Sebastian Vettel did a great job to score a point on his debut for BMW Sauber at Indianapolis in 2007. But the big difference there was that he was their test driver and had some knowledge and experience of the car.

Alguersuari is a rookie in the strictest sense of the word. He doesn’t know the F1 environment, has almost no experience of the cars and has to learn everything from scratch. It’s one of those situations where half of him will be saying, “I must take this opportunity, you never know if another will come along,” but the other half of him is saying, “The chances of failure are higher than the chances of success and my career may be over by the age of 20.”

There are many examples of that down the years and huge talent is no guarantee of getting over the hurdle. Look at Tommy Byrne, who took the first F1 seat offered to him, showed badly and never bounced back.

Alguersuari had been toiling in World Series by Renault this season after winning the British F3 championship last season. F1 is on a whole different level from anything else in motor sport, not least the mental side. At the end of the day the key questions are  1) Is he fast enough? and 2) has he got a strong enough head?  If the team and the F1 paddock sees enough to believe that the answer to both is yes, then he will have time to mature.

F1  is so competitive now that young drivers have little choice but to take the offer when it comes. Sometimes drivers are ready, like Vettel or Jenson Button or Kimi Raikkonen. This one doesn’t seem ready to me, but I look forward to being proved wrong.

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Toro Rosso boss expects ‘nothing’ from Alguersuari
13 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Tom
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 11:06 am 

    Question 3) Has he got a strong enough neck? 70-odd laps of the Hungaroring on a baking hot afternoon will sort him out…it’s ridiculous that he can’t have a proper F1 test before his first race.

    I wonder how many people will call him “Jamie” over the weeked…

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Stuart Whitman
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 11:35 am 

    This is why the in season testing ban is so ridiculous. I understand the need to cut costs and reduced testing but having no testing is stupid. Why can the teams not get together and organise group testing say 3 or 4 times during the season and the costs are shared between all 13 teams. I’m sure Bernie could get his planes to do the necessary… Then make it so rookie drivers must do a percentage of the running.

    The circuits can then sell cheap tickets based on the facts you’d have 20 odd cars there.

    This would be good for the teams, the drivers , the circuits and the spectators.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Duds
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 12:18 pm 

    Jaime does have one advantage, he’s raced Hungary before, and recently, in the World Series by Renault cars.

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: TinyJim
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 2:38 pm 

    I think many media types overstate how hard an f1 is to drive in the modern era. Physically this lad won’t have many problems. Conveniantly the media didn’t pick up on Schumacher’s and Piquet’s quotes about they two days karting were ‘more tiring’ than F1. Jaime does a lot of proper karting so he’s certainly fit enough

    He probably will struggle at Hungary purely due to the lack of familiarity with the car, but even though the lad is vastly wealthy he has shown in the past he has the talent to compete. Anybody that is racing KZ2 at a European level and then gets called up to test F1 in the same weekend has respect in my opinion.

    f1 aint like it used to be. The lad will be fine!

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: Warren
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 3:45 pm 

    Not so sure this makes any sense to me. On the weekend that the car is due to get the major upgrade they replace an experienced racer with a teenager and then say they expect nothing from him for the next three races?

    Bourdais may not have set the world alight in F1 but surely he would have been a safer bet for a result with the new package than having 2 rookies in the team, 1 who hasn’t even been to GP2 yet?

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: links for 2009-07-20 « vee8 - a Grand Prix and Formula 1 blog
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 6:10 pm 

    [...] Toro Rosso boss expects ‘nothing’ from Alguersuari – James Allen on F1 "Alguersuari is a rookie in the strictest sense of the word. He doesn’t know the F1 environment, has almost no experience of the cars and has to learn everything from scratch. It’s one of those situations where half of him will be saying, “I must take this opportunity, you never know if another will come along,” but the other half of him is saying, “The chances of failure are higher than the chances of success and my career may be over by the age of 20.”" (tags: JaimeAlguersuari ToroRosso HungarianGrandPrix) [...]


  7.   7. Posted By: Al (21prods)
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 7:40 pm 

    From what I know (which is not too much, by the way), I think you’ll be proved wrong, James. I think Jaime Alguersuari has what it takes to become successful in F1, though I find his chance may have come a bit too early.

    Let’s see what happens…

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Steven
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 9:26 pm 

    They expect nothing from him? With the upgrades STR have got Bourdais could have got points. Ridiculous. I feel sorry for Sebastien and hope he makes a success in other racing categories like he clearly deserves too.

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Rudy Pyatt
        Date: July 21st, 2009 @ 12:55 am 

    It’s the New Math, where nothing = two million. Ridiculous, and grossly unfair to both Bourdais and Alguersuari.

    Stuart, I’m with you on the testing idea. But if you’re going to sell tickets and have that many cars running, I’d prefer a return of the non-Championship GPs that were once common. You get to test under REAL conditions, judging form on that basis rather than on the Test Times Grands Prix. Your race team would BE your test team, getting the whole team (young drivers and those otherwise without F1 experience) tuned up for the coming season.

    Example: American stick-and-ball sports (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) all have a pre-season, exhibition games – the NFL has four – that don’t count toward regular season standings. The players get beyond mere training camp conditioning and into “game shape,” and the coaches get to evaluate new talent (and ideas) under the pressure of an actual game. Ya think McLaren, Ferrari and BMW would have benefited from this approach this season?

    This can add extra revenue to circuits Bernie’s abandoned, and to others that would provide compelling spectacle in untapped or under served markets – even at tracks that are sub-F1 on the glitz and glamour scale. Let CVC pick up the travel tab as you suggest, but give the track owners and local promoters a profitable deal and everybody wins: More exposure for F1, more testing for the teams and, most importantly, more value to the fans.

    Even a post-season non-points race would provide a chance to test new ideas, new rules, and new drivers for the coming year. Sure it will add some costs, but those costs will be a true investment into the sport. That’s worth spending a bit for. If FOTA really is serious about catering more to the fans, they should really go for this idea. Make it four races and you have it covered.

    What do you think, James? How about Portimao (sp?) and the Sachsenring in the Spring and Watkins Glen and Montreal in the Fall? Or is this such an obvious idea (“too much like right” as we say over here) that it can’t ever happen?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Rudy, I think they should go back to having a 3 day test immediately after the Barcelona race, at the start of the European season, then have a test in the 3 days following Silverstone (if we are back there next year) and then a pre-Monza test in early September. It’s daft for the world’s most sophisticated sport to have no testing. And the tests are a great opportunity for more people to get close to the sport at lower cost. I think one or two tests may come back next year, as many teams have been inconvenienced this season.

    [Reply]

    Leigh O'Gorman Reply:

    James,
    I too would like to see the return of testing as long as it’s limited, but why don’t they apply the testing regs that they have in the IRL.

    You get several thousands kilometers of testing, but for every time you put a young driver in a test, your team gets “bonus” miles.

    I think it would also be better if they didn’t test on any of the circuits that were on a current calendar.

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: John
        Date: July 21st, 2009 @ 5:50 am 

    They expect…a check from his sponsors.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: Pitlane Fanatic » Hungarian Grand Prix Preview
        Date: July 21st, 2009 @ 6:01 pm 

    [...] Bourdais, not least the question of how to pronounce his name. Nobody is expecting much of him, even team boss Franz Tost said, “I do not expect anything from him for at least his first three races, during which he [...]

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