Spanish teenager Jaime Alguersuari is to become the youngest driver in Formula One, as Toro Rosso named him as a replacement for the sacked Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais yesterday. Alguersuari will take the wheel at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix aged just 19 years and 125 days. The Barcelona-born driver takes over the accolade from New Zealand's Mike Thackwell, beating his record by 58 days. Thackwell debuted for Tyrrell at the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix aged 19 years and 183 days.
Alguersuari, already the youngest British Formula Three champion having won the title with Carlin Motorsport last year, realises he has a demanding test ahead of him. "I am aware that I'm facing a very tough challenge, because coming into Formula One is never easy, coming into Formula One in the middle of a season is even harder and doing so without any testing is really difficult," he said. "But already I feel that I am getting great support from the team, who have quite a reputation for looking after rookie drivers."
The teenager's selection as Bourdais's replacement was in line with Toro Rosso's commitment to developing young drivers, said the team principal Franz Tost. "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 One environment," Tost added. The 19-year-old Frenchman was appointed test driver for both Red Bull teams earlier this month.
Into his second Formula One season, Bourdais was sacked last week and has threatened legal action for breach of contract. Bourdais arrived in Formula One in 2008 with great fanfare after having won the Champ Car championship four times. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org