Having made a breakthrough in registering his first F1 points at only his eleventh attempt in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang last weekend, Scuderia Toro Rosso ace Jaime Alguersuari has warned his rivals that 'there is still a lot to come' from him over the remainder of the 2010 campaign.
Much scepticism and cynicism was expressed when it was announced that Alguersuari would be making his grand prix debut in Hungary last summer at just 19 years of age – thereby becoming the youngest driver in top flight history – but in the last two races, the Spaniard has all-but silenced the doubters.
Firstly he held the legendary Michael Schumacher off for more than 20 laps in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne – going on to duel quite literally wheel-to-wheel with the record-breaking seven-time F1 World Champion when an overtaking move finally did take place – and then he put that close-combat experience to good use last weekend in Malaysia by fighting his way past Williams adversary Nico Hülkenberg and into what would eventually become ninth position. With it, Alguersuari secured two thoroughly well-deserved world championship points, making the Barcelona native the second-youngest points-scorer ever, behind only Sebastian Vettel.
“I think it was amazing to get points there,” he enthused. “We never expected to do that on a track like that, because it was my first time there and qualifying conditions were a bit tough for us – but the race worked out really well. We knew our race pace was quite good – it is our strong point at Toro Rosso. We just need to improve qualifying in both the wet and the dry – and that is part of the learning process.
“Michael showed me the way to drive a Formula 1 car on the limit with other drivers. This was very important. To finish the Australian Grand Prix and to fight against him showed me the way – like how to be aggressive with other people. The race in Malaysia worked out like that with [Vitaly] Petrov and Nico. They were amazing fights; both were clean, and that is the way to do it in Formula 1.
“I took (Hülkenberg) in the slipstream into Turn Three, and then I out-braked him. He was closing up, and then on the exit I came out a bit better than him because I had the optimum line. I put the power on a bit earlier than him but the next corner was Turn Five, and it was on his side – a left-hand corner. He was on the left, I was on the right – on the outside – and I had more to lose than win, but at points like that you need to take risks for the points, so I did and it worked well.
“It was clean and he understeered a little bit so he lifted off – which meant I could overtake him. At that moment I was just thinking about the points. It was the same feeling I had with Michael when we both made contact. This is the art of racing and it is very nice – but in the end you do it because you need the points. At Sepang it worked out for me.”
Alguersuari hopes his newfound racecraft will pay off with further points-paying finishes for both himself and Red Bull 'junior' concern STR in the upcoming outings too, especially when he gets back to circuits that he already knows.
“There is still a lot to come from my side,” the former British F3 Champion assured, “like to know how the tyres degrade – how the 'Option' and 'Prime' behave. You come to a new track, you do the qualifying and everything is different, very difficult – but I am really expecting a lot when I go to the European tracks and the places I know, because I will be able to show my performance at 100 per cent. My knowledge of the car will be much higher, so I am expecting a lot for the second half of the season.”