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Angry Alguersuari has his say on Toro Rosso
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Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Feb 2012   |  2:18 pm GMT  |  121 comments

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.

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1

I think Joe Saward raised this point a while back- Red Bull have a poor record in looking after their young drivers once they “mature”.

Unless your Vettel. Enrique Bernoldi, Brandon Hartley to name two.

2

When Kimi was 21 Marko decided he has no future in Formula One because star of the future is Bernoldi. Jaime is stil 21 and thanks to Red Bull he has more experience from Formula One then Kimi had had. Now everything is on his hands.

3

Above comment Reply to 36

4

That would be silly lets see what happens in the end of season musical chairs, Im certain he will be back in F1 on race day next season and dont count out Ferrari!

5

As others have said, decision was correct but timing was awful, almost criminal taking into account the negative effect it would have on their careers to be told so late in the game that they don’t have a drive for 2012.

6

The PR Master Marko is revealed to be a [expletive deleted].

Nothing new here.

G/L to Alguesuari and lets hope he burns no more bridges behind himself.

7

I will never buy a Red Bull product as long as Marko is there managing people in such a bad and rude manner, not honouring his words and contracts and bad-mouthing people.

8

Jaime should consider himself lucky that they bothered placing a phone call worth 2 mins. This is the team, where team boss has physically attacked a driver and in another instance, the driver was texted of his ouster from the team.

Looks like STR management gets more sophisticated and professional in driver management…

9

At the end of the day, despite the circumstances, its hard to feel sorry for JA. Getting to F1 is not just a story of talent, but also of dollars. He and Buemi were both given all the support possible to succeed in F1. There is probably no better driver development program than RB’s. They would have known what happened to Speed and Bourdais before them and gone in with open eyes. If the never drive in F1 again, they will always have that on their resume which will certainly open doors for them in other categories. This is not the time to whinge, but to restock, get a good ride in another category and if their hearts are truly on F1, then fight for another seat in a year or two’s time. If someone like Pedro can keep getting seats, anything is possbible! Alternatively make a name for yourself in Indy, sports cars, Le Mans prototypes, etc. Look at what McNish has been able to accomplish since being dropped by Toyota.

10

ANJr – You seemed to drinking too much from F1 Kool Aid. Other racing series have their own challenges and having F1 on resume opens all doors in bit of overhype.

Likes of Alan McNish, Bourdais are talented individuals in their own rights, to succeed in F1 or that matter any team sports, there are many many more factors involved and just individual talent will not change the situation.

Alan in Toyota and Bourdais in STR was simply a case of wrong place at wrong time, and even if they had not been in F1, they would have got ample opportunities elsewhere and they were going to succeed anyways.

As a long time F1 fan (25+ yrs), I am proud of what F1 offers, but the whole hype of “pinnacle of motorsports” is a myth at least in case of modern F1, 50s-80s yes F1 was really at the peak not now

11

Reading between the lines, I think we’re in agreement. Ie that JA (and other dropped drivers) should use their experience in F1 to move on to other categories and make the best of it. I still think a lot of teams would want the cache of having an ex-F1 driver, much like F1 teams like having ex-WDCs.

Interestingly, I think there are several drivers, perhaps less talented, who have been able to use their off-track “talent” to find their way back into F1.

Maybe James could shed some insight into how one Spanish driver keeps popping up with teams even though the arm chair critic thinks he is not worthy.

12

They forgot to mention the minor detail that his seat is safe if they beat Sauber.

13

I have sympathy for Alguersuari, but Marko’s reasoning is correct. Anyone who has seen Alguersuari, Vergne and Ricciardo in junior formulae would concur that Alguersuari was the least impressive.

I am very intrigued as to who the other team Alguersuari was in talks with. Williams might be the most logical, but could it have been Lotus (Renault)? Would make sense timing-wise. I hope he gets picked up somewhere next year because he could be easily forgotten about

14

No chance! he will be straight into a seat next season wait and see.

15

And the lesson of the day (or should that be year?) for Jaime?

Get it in writing!

16

Liuzzi has plenty of papers to counter that theory, from both FIF1 and HRT. I heard papers make good fodder for fireplace in his home…

17

In fairness to STR, we’ve only heard Alguersuari’s side of the story on this. Despite me being a staunch supporter of Jaime, what he interprets as ‘verbally confirmed’ may not have been as clear-cut as that. I think it’s only fair to reserve judgement on STR/Marko until their side of the story is public.

18

Ahhh….Mart…..STR/Marko’s side is very public, and was aired first.

19

Disgusting behavior by Marko/Red Bull.

20

Helmut Marko has a point. We’ve got plenty of drivers trying to get into F1 and a fair number of seats filled by drivers for whom competing in F1 will be the summit of their acheivement. Red Bull have a top car and I imagine they’d ask “When a seat in the senior team is up, might this be the guy to fill it”. If they’d decided the answer was no for Alguersuari it was time to give someone else a go in the STR.

Telling him so late wasn’t the summit of fair play though.

21

I don’t have much sympathy, really.

He should have valued himself more. Why turn down solid offers, when you don’t have a contract signed for next year?

He could have been promised 100 million a race and ten WDC with Torro Rosso, but if he hasn’t signed a contract then it’s meaningless.

22

Why rustle feathers within the Red Bull family when he might be the next one to be called up if Webber moves on?

I think he made a wise move in waiting for them, as another year in a Toro Rosso might allow him to then move up into a Red Bull. I’d wait for that, even if there were other offers presented.

The only way I would step out of Toro Rosso to move to another team is if they were Ferrari, McLaren, or maybe Mercedes or Lotus… if it was anyone else, I would stick with Toro Rosso and hope I get promoted to Red Bull. He clearly didn’t have an offer from Ferrari or McLaren. Mercedes isn’t exactly doing all that well (basically as well as you could expect a Honda chassis with a Mercedes engine). Lotus isn’t bad, but with all the stories surrounding their ownership and money issues, I’d be wary stepping into that mess unless I was super-established like Kimi.

23

If he impressed in the Toro Rosso he had a great chance of being in the Red Bull the next year which is the number 1 seat so why sign for something else if he was sure he was going to be kept on. You have to remember also he is just 21.

24

+1

25

This must be what Marko was referring to previously when he accused Alguesuari of not being an intelligent driver!

I mean, if you’ve got a “very good offer” in one hand, and a verbal from Marko in the other, knowing Marko, which would you rely on?

26

I can see where Jaime is coming from, he has a right to be angry after being treated as such.

As for “Dr.” Marko’s “We didn’t see in them any possibility of growth. … We want Grand Prix winners” BS, what exactly did he have planned for Algersuari and Buemi anyways? Was he even ever going to move them up to Red Bull after their “rookie stint” in Toro Rosso? So in reality, Marko never had a solid plan for the two since the line-up at RBR was obviously going to stay as it was. Marko should have just really informed the two that they were going to be sacked a lot earlier.

27

I have a lot of time for Alguersuari. He is one of the most articulate and seemingly intelligent drivers on the grid (which is an impression I’ve garnered from seeing him interviewed), and the decision taken to drop him at the end of the year was very peculiar. However, he has handled the situation admirably and I hope he has every chance to stick two fingers up at Marko in the future.

28

Got serious visions on Ferrari next season cant help but think Rosberg is glued in and Schumi is keeping Pauls seat cosi. and would seem the most ideal candidate without hacking offf Alonso

30

If this version of the story is true, it paints the management of Torro Rosso in a negative way. Their treatment of their employee was totally unethical.

I think the new 2 guys in TR (Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne) are watching this and when the time come if they have some real potential they will abandon TR for the next opportunity that comes along, instead of sticking around till Marco gets bored with them and starts to look again for the new Vettel.

Good luck to Jaime for the Mercedes deal.

31

I would think certainly. must have the F1 puppet masters thinking too. Does not swallow well as for other issues with the “Split team” too.

32

I do not know what is that link provided for. I, for one, have no intention of reading about Franz Tost. Rather want to know what does that link prove!!!

34

Sorry to say that the image of STR management was already tarnished long ago. Remember what transpired between Scott Speed and Tost?

Lucky that Tost is not in any other sport. Otherwise he would have been reprimanded heavily.

35

James,

Is there any indication on what Red Bull are expecting from Vergne this season? I was quite impressed by what Alguersuari managed to do in the latter part of 2011, and going by his account of events it seems they were ready to keep him on. Have they seen something extra special from the Frenchman to push Jaime out?

36

He’ll have a year to learn then a year to impress, that would be my guess

37

I’ve never liked Marko or Red Bull that much, since their unflinching loyalty and incomprehensible defence of Vettel after Vettel crashed into Webber in Turkey.

38

You have my backing there on Vettel crash into Webber.

39

Obviously Toro Rosso didn’t want to see Jaime running for another team this year because they feared his success. That would make them look pretty dumb.

40

+1 ish

41

Completely disagree with most of these comments — this is F1 and there is no entitlement just because you competed for a few years. If we want the best drivers in the world in this sport, we need to accept that those who do not show potential for domination should be moved on. STR may be among the most ruthless in making these decisions, but all teams have that “up or out” mentality.

Furthermore, I suspect that STR was not behaving maliciously — in fact, Alguersari’s comments confirm that the team believed that he was going to have a seat in 2012 (otherwise why have him prepped for the PR event?). Obviously things changed in the interim — this happens all the time in the business world (i.e., a new strategic direction) and Alguersari was a casualty. In that vein, for STR to re-commit themselves to new driver development seems completely reasonable.

What is not reasonable was the timing of the decision. Alguersari clearly got shafted and he is certainly justified in his frustration about how things played out. That said, there were plenty of other seats available in F1 this year, and his name did not come up – I presume the folks in the paddock know more than I do, so there must be a reason for it.

Put simply, STR needed to make this decision earlier, out of respect for their drivers. This sets a precedent that could hurt the team — if Ricciardo or Vergne gets offers from another team in the coming years, they may be more likely to accept just in case their agreement with STR vanishes like it did for Alguersari (and Buemi too, I presume).

42

You have got half that right and half very wrong Canada.

43

Hmmm how would it feel if you are working for an employer who has expectations disproportionate to the investment they make in the business, physically abuse you and then bad mouth you around diminishing your job prospects? All because of there are more drivers in market than available seat.

44

To be fair, most of the comments have been critical of the way Toro Rosso allegedly misled Alguersuari into thinking he would be continuing with them, rather than that he was entitled to stay with the team.

I think Alguersuari needed to be a bit more ruthless and he should have taken the opportunity with this other team. Webber clearly isn’t retiring yet and Toro Rosso aren’t going to be building race-winning cars any time soon. Without a cast-iron contract (if such a thing exists) that Alguersuari would inherit Webber’s seat, his place in Toro Rosso was never going to be secure – the fates of Speed, Bourdais & Liuzzi are testament to that.

45

can you imagine if he was a british driver? Even marko would have been afrais to give him this kind of treatment.

46

Unless he was Gary Paffet getting kicked in nuts for his loyalty to a British team. At peak of his youth Paffet was not touched by other team, since he was committed to McLaren.

McLaren never gave him a fair shot in a race seat. Now all that he is reduced to is status of Marc Gene, Fisichella and likes who warm benches of maranello, drive around corporate guests at high speeeds in Company’s sports car and test parts in a simultor.

47

Well to be fair this where we have to be realistic and look at all the facts not just within F1 Especially as a team owner picking drivers. 1st point Vettel and De Rista same team f3 in 06 Paul wins fair and square.

09 Dtm a still very very young De Rista who has allways been single seat going into a field of well accomplished dtm driver (inc Paffet) and ex F1 drivers DC RS etc quite a mine field.

Anyway finishes 3rd on the heals of Paffet following year Wins the title Quite a feat! with Paffet 3rd and last season Paffet finishes 7th.

So in reality folks did Paffet really justify a shot on race day? more so due to the fact he knows the car and has obv constantly been monitored on progress/skill over the yrs???

48

I understand Paffett will not attend the GPs this season

49

So there you go, Gary is indeed reduced to same fate of Marc Gene and Fisico, to warm benches, puke in simulator and chauffeur corporate guests at high speed 🙂

At least for Gene and Fisi, they did get race driving experience in F1.

Paffett is good example why it is always lose-lose situation for drivers in F1. If they express their side of story, they are deemed as whiners, if they keep quite about bad treatment from team, the team still goes about with its head held high like STR and the uninformed fans simply insult the drivers.

PS – Moderator has warned about not disrespecting the posters. Can we have same code of decorum and civility when it comes to the drivers?? Its ok for posters to ignorantly insult the drivers, but wrong to tell these posters that they are wrong.

50

That’s sadly true.

51

“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.”

Someone should explain to Marko that F1 is 95% about the car. First give the drivers a race winning car, then expect them to start winning races. Not the other way round.

52

Precisely. It’s not fair to compare Vettel winning in a rebadged Red Bull at Monza to Alguersuari “merely” scoring consistent points in a real Toro Rosso (that actually came up with their own design out of the old Minardi team).

Put him in a Red Bull and see how he does.

On the flip side, if he “didn’t reach expectations” in 2.5 years, why did it take them that long to realize he wasn’t worth keeping?

Seems weird to me. Maybe French sponsors are more sought after than Spanish ones?

53

Even with all of those comparisons, I am still not convinced that Alguersuari showed enough, or showed as much as Vettel did to earn a promotion, regardless of whether it was entirely JA’s fault or not.

Four of Jaime’s seven points finishes in 2011 came from the 18th place grid slot, which effectively rewards a poor qualifying session with extra sets of tyres for the race. Quite a few others got points from that position as well.

I do not believe that STR were naive enough literally demand a podium/win from Jaime, or the same results as SV managed. However, to be given a Red Bull ride, he would have needed to consistently shine in the circumstances he was given, which didn’t really happen, with a qualifying record inferior to that of Buemi’s.

54

The one area I’ll agree with you on is the poor qualifying record (apart from his sixth-place effort at Spa). He showed a weakness there (though he was able to usually recover). He showed Buemi was ahead of him there, but then Buemi showed that Alguersuari was stronger in the races.

Had they both been good at qualifying or the races (consistently), at least one or the other would likely be racing this year. Since they each showed each others weaknesses, unfortunately they both ended up getting canned.

Personally, I could see Alguersuari being another Button or Mansell in the longer term. Strong driver, shows talent, but then really makes it count when he’s in a good car after maturing for a few years. Sadly, that’s not how the Red Bull system works. If jaws don’t drop with your performances, you’re out.

In that regard, I disagree with Marko; I think Alguersuari is better than just a “GP Driver”, but I think he’d a winner as well. Perhaps not a multi-time world champion that sets the world on fire year after year, but a winner nonetheless.

55

STR in their current guise still aren’t as far down as Minardi, and the “rebadged Red Bull” was based on a car that finished 7th in the WCC.

56

@Spinodontosaurus – STR definitely wasn’t on a par with Renault or BMW.

57

Minardi would score points on occasion, back when it was top-6 only.

Also, it wasn’t based on one that finished 7th; it was an updated chassis from the previous season, where that car finished 5th in the WCC despite many retirements (or 6th, if you count McLaren). 7 out of 19 finishes were in the points (top-8) and they scored a podium with that chassis. That podium (and Coulthard’s 5th place) was in a rain race, which shows how good that chassis was in the rain.

Webber qualified third for Monza in 2008, one spot ahead of Bourdais, so it shows that the Red Bull was close to the Toro Rosso on pace (Newey’s designs around that time were still competitive). So for Vettel to be marginally ahead of Webber on pace isn’t that extraordinary. Impressive, like I said before, but not some miracle.

The rest of Vettel’s 2008 season actually closely resembles Alguersuari’s 2011 season, in that there were a lot of points finishes – the discrepancy between points systems being easily offset by the differences in reliability between 2008 and 2011 (easier to get into the top 8 when a bunch of cars retire than it is to get into the top 10 when there are almost never any cars retiring).

Let’s go over Vettel’s advantages with the STR3 over Alguersuari’s STR6:

1. Vettel’s re-badged Red Bull had a much more powerful Ferrari engine in 2008, rather than the 2008 Renault engine that was good on fuel but seriously lacked power. We all know Monza is a power track, where that Ferrari engine could more than make up for a slightly superior Red Bull chassis.

2. Renault and Ferrari are a lot more even these days on power, and Renault had a bigger advantage in 2011 with their exhaust-blowing settings, giving Toro Rosso’s STR6 a comparative handicap. Vettel did not have to overcome this discrepancy in 2008 with his STR3.

3. Vettel had a chassis based off previous year’s Red Bull-Ferrari that scored a podium in 2007… a reasonably competitive design that was then optimized for the following season. That chassis was proven by all four drivers (Vettel, Bourdais, and previously Webber and Coulthard) to be fast in the rain.

4. Vettel’s Toro Rosso was clearly aimed at the faster tracks (as well as being fast in the rain) as evidenced by Bourdais qualifying fourth at Monza, and also having the fastest time of the field in Q2 at Spa that year, followed by both cars running in the top five until a torrential downpour on the last lap while they were on intermediates (Bourdais was ahead of Vettel until the final lap, by the way). Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso was never designed to be fast at a specific circuit or in the rain, and therefore didn’t give him an opportunity to have an upset finish in perfect conditions like Vettel.

Vettel’s talented, no doubt, but writing off Alguersuari because he didn’t run with the Red Bulls or snag a win, or even get a podium is quite unfair as Vettel had the odds in his favour to do well that year.

Apples and oranges.

58
Spinodontosaurus

Un-reliable, and had a weak engine. The Toro Rosso had a much stronger Ferrari engine. On pure pace the two teams were pretty much up there with Renault and BMW.

59

Exactly! Tell the guy he is out before the season ends so his 2012 is not ruined as well.

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