Formula one drivers on Thursday questioned whether Jaime Alguersuari is ready to make his Formula One debut. The 19-year-old Spaniard is set not only to become the youngest ever Grand Prix starter in Hungary, but with only two straight-line...
Formula one drivers on Thursday questioned whether Jaime Alguersuari is ready to make his Formula One debut.
The 19-year-old Spaniard is set not only to become the youngest ever Grand Prix starter in Hungary, but with only two straight-line tests under his belt, he must also be the least experienced.
"When you arrive in Formula One you should be ready. It's not a learning school," Mark Webber said in Alguersuari's presence in the FIA press conference.
The 32-year-old Australian, however, acknowledged the problem posed by the current testing rules, with non-race weekend running during the season totally banned.
Felipe Massa, who debuted in 2002 at the age of 21 but lost his Sauber seat at the end of that season, was similarly outspoken.
"For me, he's too young. I don't think it is good for him. It was not easy for me, but the difference is that even if it was not easy for me, at least I had spent the winter doing lots of testing," said the Ferrari driver.
Another very young starter was today's championship leader Jenson Button, who was a teenager as he did his winter testing prior to debuting for Williams in 2000.
He doesn't blame Alguersuari, whose FIA superlicense was a reward for winning last year's British F3 title, for accepting the offer of a Formula One drive but thinks the decision "could absolutely destroy his career".
"I don't know the reasons for him getting the drive. I can guess, but he's not going to help the team develop the car," the Briton added.
In 2007, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was arguably the best ever prepared F1 rookie, having enjoyed a junior career backed all the way by McLaren.
Like Button, Hamilton said it is impossible to criticise the Spaniard for jumping at the chance of the Toro Rosso seat, but insists he is glad he didn't make a similar decision.
"In 2006, when Montoya left, I was going to replace him (at McLaren) and I'd only done straight-line tests, but it would have been the worst move of my career," he said.
Hamilton said it took him several days of real testing before he was close to matching the pace of McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa.
"It takes confidence and a lot of preparation," he added. "If I hadn't have had that testing and I'd gone into China, who knows if I'd have got my drive the following year."
Fernando Alonso, also 19 when he made his debut in 2001, visited his young countryman at the Hungaroring on Thursday morning, and gave a more optimistic view of Alguersuari's opportunity.
"We can do a lot of laps on Fridays now, and obviously he will maybe not be 100 per cent for this race but it's a great opportunity and hopefully in a very short time he will be 100 per cent," he said.