Alguersuari: Hamilton braked so hard I couldn't avoid him...
31 May 2011
Jaime Alguersuari insists he was blameless in the multi-car accident in the closing stages of Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix that left Lotus Renault GP rival Vitaly Petrov briefly hospitalised – as Scuderia Toro Rosso team-mate Sébastien Buemi conversely tallied his third points-scoring finish of the F1 2011 campaign.
Alguersuari was already on the back foot after exiting the fray at the Q1 stage in qualifying, as a string of disappointing performances this season continued in the glamorous Principality, and he happened to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time on lap 69 of the race when matters came to a head.
A lapped runner in amongst the fraught four-way scrap over fifth place between Adrian Sutil, Pastor Maldonado, Petrov and Lewis Hamilton, Alguersuari opportunistically followed Hamilton past Petrov to un-lap himself, but was then caught out by the McLaren-Mercedes man unexpectedly braking as Sutil – missing a tyre as a result of contact with the wall at Tabac – shot straight across the track at the Swimming Pool and forced his pursuers to take avoiding action.
In the ensuing chaos and confusion, Alguersuari rode up over the back of Hamilton's car and into the barriers, with the following Petrov left with nowhere to go but into the barriers himself. There was, the Spaniard reflected, little he could have done.
“I seemed to be in traffic all the time, which is normal here, so I was unable to exploit the full potential of the tyres,” lamented the 21-year-old, under pressure to retain his seat at STR from test and reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo, who triumphed in the World Series by Renault race in Monte Carlo. “It was very difficult, or nearly impossible to overtake, so there was not much I could do having started so far back on the grid.
“As for the accident towards the end, I think Sutil had a problem with his rear tyre, so Hamilton braked very hard in front of me and, although I also braked as hard as I could, it was too late – I could not stop and went into him. Of course it's disappointing, but our race pace is encouraging so I hope we can make use of that in Montreal in two weeks' time.”
Buemi, happily, prevented Toro Rosso from heading home entirely empty-handed, with a solid run to tenth place and the final points-paying position in what he confessed was a tremendously confusing race – meaning the Swiss ace now leads his team-mate seven-nil in the points standings in 2011, and is continuing to outpace him weekend-in, weekend-out.
“I started 16th and finished tenth after a very difficult grand prix, because by the end of it, I have to admit I was not too sure where we were in terms of strategy and tyres, with the situation made more complicated by the safety car and the red flag,” he mused.
“I think we can be happy with our race pace as my lap times were quite good, and to come away from the toughest race of the year with a point is pleasing, especially when you consider our qualifying did not go so well. Now I am looking forward to Canada, where I had a good race last year, finishing eighth.”
“Another very exciting F1 race, with action from the very beginning to the end, including a re-start,” summarised the small Faenza-based outfit's team principal Franz Tost. “On top of that, the top three finished within 2.3 seconds, having each gone for different strategies – a one-stop, a two and a three – which shows how complex it is to find the best strategy these days.
“From the Toro Rosso point-of-view, the whole team did a good job as we come away with one point, which was better than we could have expected after a rather disappointing qualifying performance. Sébastien did a very good job, not making any mistakes – which is not easy in Monaco – and eventually finishing six places higher than his grid position.
“Jaime was unfortunately involved in the accident that brought out the final safety car and then the red flag. He had nowhere to go, and he could not avoid it. Now, we must analyse why our qualifying performance was not good enough, whereas our race pace was better. For the next two races, we will have the same soft and super-soft Pirelli tyres, which suggests that Montreal and Valencia should also produce some exciting racing.”