Young Spaniard Earns His F1 Wings
His name is Jaime Alguersuari. He is just 19 years old. And this weekend he will become the youngest driver ever to take part in a Formula One race. He will fill the seat in the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso vacated by the axed Sebastian Bourdais at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Barcelona native, the 2008 British Formula 3 champion, came up through Red Bull’s young driver program and replaces Bourdais 10 races into the 2009 F1 season. He joins Sebastien Buemi, who is also a youngster at just 20 years old. Together, they will make up the youngest driver team line-up on the starting grid.
Alguersuari takes over the “youngest F1 driver” 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.
“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.”
It’s clearly going to be a tough job for the youngster, and with the eyes and attentions of the F1 community on him, it will only be tougher. We just hope that he is not being set up to fail, like the man he is replacing. Bourdais came into F1 last year with much fanfare, a string of Champ Car titles to his name, and a whole lot of promise. It clearly didn’t do much for him.