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.