Jaime Alguersuari's winter plans are far from relaxing, with an already packed diary as he bids to get himself fully prepared for his first full season in F1.
Toro Rosso's new boy puts getting fitter in the mix
Formula One has wrapped up for another season and the drivers up and down the grid have no doubt packed their bags for some winter rest and relaxation. World champion Jenson Button is off to sunnier climes with Jessica Michibata, his model girlfriend, while 2009 team-mate Rubens Barrichello plans to spend time with his wife Silvana and their two sons, Eduardo and Fernando, at his homes in Brazil and Portugal ahead of next season's first race.
But Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari's winter plans are far from relaxing, with an already packed diary as he bids to get himself fully prepared for his first full season in F1 after Toro Rosso agreed to extend his contract. Karting becomes a recurring theme in Alguersuari's off-season calendar. "Karting is the best possible way available for me to get ready for Formula One," he says. "Because of the way I came into F1 [he replaced Sébastien Bourdais midway through the season], I wasn't fully prepared and I'm working to change that for next season."
With just eight race weekends under his belt and being a youthful driver - he made history by becoming the youngest F1 debutant of all time at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July - he is still feeling fully refreshed. His training schedule is immensely varied, ranging from running in the Las Vegas heat to cycling a hilly course on the Balearic island of Ibiza and cross-country skiing in Scandinavia. Alguersuari, who was packed off to boarding school in England for a year by his father to perfect his English for post-race press conferences (it's worth noting his grasp of the language is excellent), relishes all facets of his training and, in particular, any chance to get back to Ibiza.
"I think it's my favourite place in the world," he says, "and it's where I go to chill above everywhere else." Away from F1, music is the overriding passion for the Toro Rosso driver, although he admitted that had been very much put on hold during the season. He hosts an annual music festival in Ibiza, owns his own recording studio in Barcelona, where he was born and now lives, and already has ambitious plans to set up a recording label in the future.
He started DJing as a 13-year-old and has become an established name in the process. "I just DJ under my name. All the best guys do, like David Guetta and Carl Cox for example," says Alguersuari, "and I love it. Driving is very much in my heart but so is music, although it's a different passion really. "I can't really compare the two, so I can't say which is better. Driving around an F1 track at top speed and DJing to thousands of people are very different things but both of them give you an incredible buzz, make you feel - alive. But they're incomparable."
When not training and karting, he plans to lock himself away in his recording studio, his safe haven both during and after the season. "I close the door and it's like I'm locked away in a bunker and no one can find me," he says. "I switch my phone off and just forget everything else that goes on." His musical passion lies with techno and house music and he believes he has a genuine talent. "There are a lot of people who listen to electronic and techno music and think there is no talent as there are no guitars or musical instruments," he says. "But there's a real skill to it - a very different skill - and it's not all just about drum machines. And I love it. It's something I think I'm good at."
Plans for an album, which he has talked about with friends, look set to be put aside for now while he focuses on his F1 career. While music and F1 are very much the focus of the winter, there will be scheduled trips to Toro Rosso's headquarters in Faenza, Italy, to check on the progress of next year's car but, other than that, he will stay in Barcelona wherever possible. "I've done too much travelling this year so it's nice just to stay put and Barcelona's such a good city just to enjoy," he says. "It's a great city for my kind of music and just to chill and enjoy life. Maybe I'll go elsewhere to enjoy my music, like Berlin and London, all good places for music, but for now I feel happy to take it easy at home."
The final focus of his winter break is for Alguersuari is golf and dropping his handicap below an already impressive five. That said, he already has one eye on next season and climbing up the grid with Toro Rosso. "For me, the winter is about getting fitter and faster in Formula One," he says before packing his bags for Vegas. email@example.com