x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Jaime Alguersuari is tireless about future options

The 22-year-old Spaniard has no grudge with Red Bull or Toro Rosso as he waits for his next chance in Formula One. Gary Meenaghan writes from Valencia.

Jaime Alguersuari relieves his competitive nature at the Monaco Grand Prix's Fan Zone. The 22-year-old Spaniard has been working for Pirelli as their test driver this season and is confident he will be back in Formula One in 2013.
Jaime Alguersuari relieves his competitive nature at the Monaco Grand Prix's Fan Zone. The 22-year-old Spaniard has been working for Pirelli as their test driver this season and is confident he will be back in Formula One in 2013.

Jaime Alguersuari's crystalline blue eyes likely have never been greener. Instead of fighting Saturday for a podium finish with Lotus, he will watch the European Grand Prix from the sidelines, reporting for a British radio station and understandably jealous of the 24 drivers on the starting grid.

The 22-year-old Spaniard from Barcelona was dismissed by Toro Rosso at the end of last year, but not before he had rejected an offer from Eric Boullier's ambitious British marque.

Having spent almost a third of his life competing under the Red Bull umbrella and been repeatedly given assurances of his future in F1, he was in no rush to cut ties and respectfully declined the opportunity to switch teams.

"Before all the chaos, I had had talks with Lotus in Brazil, but we had to say no because I was in Red Bull for six years and thought myself part of the family," Alguersuari told The National.

"It is a shame because they are looking very strong this season."

Even with six months having passed, he still bristles at the memory of his dismissal.

The surprise call came three weeks after the chequered flag fell at Interlagos: Alguersuari and his teammate Sebastien Buemi had been dumped, with Red Bull's adviser announcing the drivers as good but not good enough.

"We need winners," Dr Helmut Marko said.

Alguersuari was mystified.

"It was very strange because everything changed from one day to the next. [Red Bull bosses] talked to us during the last race weekend and said there is no problem for next year. I went on holiday for two weeks and when I came back they contacted me.

"It was totally unexpected."

The sport's youngest debutant maintains a good relationship with Marko and does not hold him personally responsible for the decision.

He does however, regret the fact he was never given a true explanation.

"I wouldn't say it was his decision or someone else's," Alguersuari said. "I do not enter into this game. It was their decision, for reasons that I do not know. It was never explained to me.

"When they said we were not winners, I do not believe this.

"After six years, from December 15 to December 16 you realise you do not have a winner in your team? It is not a fair reason. Tell me another thing because this is not a real reason.

"I do not buy it, but it is in the past and I am looking forward. That choice, for me, is probably the best thing that could have happened for me in my life."

Such a philosophical outlook stems from the confidence he has gained from not only working with the BBC, but also being employed as a test driver for Pirelli, the Italian manufacturers who provide the notoriously unpredictable tyres that are helping produce the most enthralling season in memory.

"Sometimes, when one door closes, another one opens," he said.

"Obviously it is not the place I want to be - I want to be back in the car - but it is very important because it gives me a great opportunity to be at every race and stay around Formula One. For sure, it is a good position to be in for the comeback. It gives me the opportunity to test and develop an understanding of the tyres for next year, which nobody knows. It's a big advantage."

The former British F3 champion has no doubts he will be back on the grid next season, although unlikely with Red Bull, and speaks of the future in positive terms.

With Pirelli, where he is joined by the Brazilian Lucas di Grassi, he gets access to confidential tyre data that 12 race teams in the paddock would greatly benefit from.

He also gets to test drive extensively: in Jerez, he completed an unprecedented 700 kilometres in one day.

"The case is I am not in F1 now, but I will be next year," said Alguersuari, who will test the 2013 Pirelli tyres again next week in Spa.

"At the end of the day I am 22 years old, so I have plenty of time. Just now, I am learning a lot and gaining huge experience with Pirelli, but getting back into F1 is the objective and it is why I am here and what I am looking for. It is still very early to talk; I have had some conversations and I am sure I can be back there next year.

"The fact I'm testing gives me the chance to understand something nobody else knows. Of course, at the moment, nothing is signed, but we are only at the eighth race. By mid-season I'll have a much clearer idea. If someone moves, we will be there 100 per cent."

Alguersuari concedes he has plenty more still to learn, but argues a good case: in a season that is proving more unpredictable as ever, a driver who understands the tyres could prove pivotal.

Seven drivers have won the first seven races and both Lotus drivers are well placed to make it eight tomorrow at the Valencia Street Circuit.

Alguersuari knows he could have been involved too, but he holds no grudges.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," he said. "That is my philosophy."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE