On the day that Toro Rosso began testing its new F1 car, the team’s former driver Jaime Alguersuari has told his side of the story of how he was abruptly dropped by the team.
Alguersuari, who looks likely to appear in the F1 paddock this year as reserve driver for Mercedes, thought he had been given verbal confirmation before the end of the season that his seat at Toro Rosso was secure. But two weeks after the last race he was told that he was out.
Speaking on his own website the Spaniard said, “On December 13th, when Red Bull Racing told me that I was no longer part of the family I said that I was not going to judge them, neither I was feeling like a victim and that this was not a drama.
“But let me say just one thing: they hurt me, and moreover, it was unnecessary.
“I was verbally confirmed during the Brazilian GP. Hence, being confirmed by Red Bull and STR, I rejected a very good offer. Back on December 11th, Toro Rosso sent me to a PR event in Madrid, in the Cepsa headquarters to participate in the awarding medal ceremony to the employees with the longest seniority in the company and the Christmas dinner, with a very well prepared script from Faenza where I was supposed to talk about Toro Rosso, Cepsa and myself in 2012. Two days later, I received a phone call saying that they were not counting on me. They were two phone calls no longer than two minutes each.
“Neither I nor anyone else will ever understand why, having largely fulfilled all expectations that the team asked for, having improved my position from 2010 and having beaten my team-mate, I was ceased on December 14th when there was no reaction time to have a good option to run in 2012.”
The man in charge of Red Bull’s driver programme, Helmut Marko, explained his reasons for dropping Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi at the time thus, “Toro Rosso was created to give young drivers a chance. Alguersuari and Buemi had that chance for three years and after that period it’s possible to evaluate a drivers’ development.
“We didn’t see in them any possibility of growth. Both are Grand Prix drivers, but for us that’s not enough. We want Grand Prix winners.”
Toro Rosso now has Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne in the cars for 2012 and they started testing today in Jerez alongside the other contenders. It’s a great opportunity for both men, one of whom will aspire to fill a seat at Red Bull alongside Sebastian Vettel at some point in the future, depending on what happens with Mark Webber.
“I am not thinking about 2013…obviously there is probably a chance for 2013 with Red Bull Racing but I will not answer these kinds of questions because at the moment I don’t want to see too far ahead,” said Vergne.
Ricciardo, meanwhile, is the more experienced of the pair, having driven half a season with HRT last year. “It’s a bit emotional actually, seeing the first F1 car that will be mine to drive from the start of the season,” he said.