Nathan Thomas looks at how Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari kept up the recent trend of drivers finishing in the points despite a poor qualifying session by bringing his car home in a brilliant seventh place, after starting in eighteenth on the grid.
After Schumacher and Button’s recent exertions at Spa when the German started in last place and finished fifth and the 2009 World Champion went from thirteenth to a podium position in third place, this time it was the young, exuberant Spaniard, tipped as a possible future Red Bull driver who proved that those rumours certainly carry some valid credence.
The Toro Rosso team had not been expected to challenge it’s other midfield rivals Force India this weekend due to the terrific power provided on straight line stints of the circuit by the Mercedes V8 engine however Alguersuari was surprised by the speed of the car after a poor Qualifying performance by himself and his team mate Sebastian Buemi – both lining up in eighteenth and sixteenth respectively.
Alguersuari was even able to overcome the big collision into turn one which saw Tonio Liuzzi take out Nico Rosberg as he was able to weave his Ferrari powered machine around the strewn wreckage of cars and various mechanical parts and fortunately it did not prevent Jaime from completing a brilliant drive which belied his young years where he showed composure, a cool head but above all racing ability. He became embroiled in a battle for seventh place on lap twenty with Saubers Sergio Perez and Williams’s driver Pastor Maldonado both of whom Alguersuari eventually passed on lap twenty five with showcasing some confident over-taking ability under braking. He was aided by the fact that both Sauber drivers retired with gearbox failure, much to the annoyance of Peter Sauber and the rest of the team after they had been on for a good points finish.
Jaime’s drive deserves further lauding given that he finished above his team mate and by a margin of over a second which can be seen as a great triumph by the Spaniard and his team of engineers at Toro Rosso. Given the popularity of Ferrari it’s easy to forget that this is also squad’s home race and a point’s finish will go down very well as will the fact Alguersuari also finished ahead of Force India’s Paul Di Resta.
The turn-around for Alguersuari has been nothing short of astonishing given his fairly average first half of the season and it even reached a point at Valencia when the Spaniard thought he may be removed from his seat from at Italian team but after two good races first at Canada and then at Valencia he has come into his own and has finally adapted to the setup that his mechanics are providing him with week in week out. Alguersuari jokes that he might start each race between now and the end of the season further and further back considering that he seems to be achieving his best finishes from further back on the grid. His eighth place at Canada was achieved from twenty-fourth place and similarly his eighth place at Valencia came after he brought his Toro Rosso in eighteenth, just as in Monza. The decision to opt to go with the larger gear ratio setup also proved fruitful as Torro Rosso were able to match similar ability cars in areas where they were not expected to challenge, the car did appear to fade as the race neared its conclusion which saw Buemi dropping a place to Senna however the Brazilian was in the superior car and this should not deter from what was a great race for the Italien Red Bull’s.
It is clear that Alguersuari possess great raw ability to race in clusters of traffic as he showcased this season but particularly at Monza and he and his team mates form bode well for Toro Rosso as they attempt to pick up as many points as possible as the aim for the elusive sixth position ahead of Sauber and Force India however it is imperative that Torro Rosso continue to supply their drivers with a consistently good car as this is clearly what Buemi and Alguersuari crave and they have started in the right vein at their home race of Monza.
Today may have been all about World Champion elect Sebastian Vettel but Alguersuari was right up there, with a nod to the future.