Jaime Alguersuari has admitted that he would pass up the opportunity to remain on the grid with backmarker HRT, despite being dumped by Red Bull-backed Scuderia Toro Rosso before Christmas.
The Spaniard, who has also been linked to a possible seat at Williams, was this week dismissed, along with erstwhile team-mate Sebastien Buemi, as 'not good enough' to be world champion, despite many seeing him as potential frontrunner in the right car.
The 'not good enough' comments came from controversial Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko, who also rubbished Buemi's claim that he hopes to use his recently confirmed reserve role with the drinks brand's two teams as a springboard to take over from Mark Webber when the Australian calls time on his career with RBR.
“They had their chance for three years and that's enough to evaluate the development of a driver,” Marko told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport
newspaper, “We didn't see in them the possibility for more. They are grand prix drivers, but not enough for what we want, which is to have grand prix winners.”
The definition of Alguersuari as a 'grand prix driver' at least suggests that he deserves a place in the 24-car field but, with just HRT and Williams holding obvious vacancies, the former British F3 champion's options are limited to teams that trailed Toro Rosso in 2011. With that in mind, he has dismissed suggestions that he may be an ideal candidate to join the increasingly Spanish-oriented HRT operation in a bid to remain on the grid this season.
Indeed, that decision may already have been taken out of Alguersuari's hands, with new HRT team principal Luis Perez Sala admitting that there were other, better-funded, options to partner returning veteran Pedro de la Rosa in 2012.
Spanish sports newspaper AS
reports that Alguersuari has 'definitely ruled out' a switch to HRT because he considers it a move down the F1 pecking order, but claims that he has other irons in the fire, including the opportunity to be a test and reserve driver at more established operations, including both McLaren, which has lost the services of de la Rosa, and Mercedes, which has relied on GP2 ace Sam Bird, in addition to race drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, for development duties in the past two years.
The vacant seat at Williams is also thought to be out of Alguersuari's reach, with Rubens Barrichello and Bruno Senna appearing to be the favourites to partner Pastor Maldonado.
Buemi, meanwhile, hopes to combine a race seat in another series with his Red Bull reserve duties, and has targeted the Le Mans 24 Hours as a goal for 2012.
“Ideally, I would couple F1 with a different one, such as endurance - I like the Le Mans 24 a lot," he told Le Matin
, “There is no grand prix on that weekend, so it would be possible. The big teams will start their testing soon, so I could participate as well."