Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari was speaking today about his season so far and batting away questions about whether he is likely to be moved aside in order for Daniel Ricciardo to be given a chance to do a race weekend, or maybe a series of them.
“I think it is interesting as he (Ricciardo) gets to try different things on the car and at the end, still this year, I did not find the best way to improve the car, the performance, and am just still learning about the set-up, about the tyres, about so many things on the car,” said the Spaniard.
“It is interesting that he also gets to know the car, to try to improve things on the car. I think it is quite interesting and it makes things a bit easier, a bit faster. But still I am not 100 per cent happy with everything going on. I think Canada was very important for us and we are finding our way to the best performance.”
This is an interesting subject, as it is quiet common to see drivers getting a chance mid-season for various reasons; injury to a principal, or poor performance.
Still only 21 years old, Alguersuari had a decent result in Canada; eighth his career best in F1 and his first points of the season, but he has generally been outperformed by Sebastien Buemi. Canada was only his second points finish in his last 21 starts. He’s started 34 races in total and Hungary will be his second anniversary in F1.
However, he’s been vulnerable in qualifying and was eliminated in Q1 at the last 2 races, and was outqualified by both Lotuses in Monaco. He has only beaten Buemi in qualifying once but it was a significant one; 7th in China was Toro Rosso’s best qualifying performance of the season.
This year I think we will see a couple of new driver opportunities. I do think Ricciardo will get an outing and he deserves a chance to do a race weekend, but my understanding of the situation at Toro Rosso is that Sebastien Buemi is very close to Red Bull special adviser Helmut Marko and Alguersuari brings some money to the team. So finding a chance for Ricciardo isn’t as straightforward as it was when they moved Sebastien Bourdais or Scott Speed aside.
Meanwhile we have Nico Hulkenberg in a reserve driver role at Force India. Adrian Sutil is vulnerable there because of the criminal complaint against him which has been filed with the prosecutor in Munich over the night club glassing incident with Genii’s Eric Lux. Sutil insisted today that his seat is safe, but he’s not dealing well with rookie Paul di Resta’s pace in the sister car and Force India boss Vijay Mallya is being cagey about what he might do if Sutil is formally charged with grievous bodily harm.
Karun Chandhok is in the reserve role at Team Lotus and it will be interesting to see what happens for the Indian Grand Prix on October 30th. The temptation for an Asian team to run an Indian driver at that race will be very strong and if one of the race drivers had to make way one wonders if it might be Jarno Trulli who gave a very downbeat interview to Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday in which he said that if things don’t improve it would be better not to continue in F1.
“I’m not having a great time, ” said the 36 year old Italian. “The car isn’t aerodynamically efficient after a tough 2010 I thought we would be battling in the midfield, but we are still behind. Lotus is still gaining experience.”
Trulli said that the lack of precision in the steering is the main problem, he cannot feel the limit of the car, which hurts his qualifying pace mainly, which has always been his strong point.
He has the air of a driver reaching the end of his F1 career, “I’m used to fighting for podiums and wins. Like this it’s tough. I might look around outside F1. I’m not interested in Indycar, but maybe in Le Mans 24 hours.”
(Alguersuari photo: Darren Heath)