Friday, July 24, 2009

The most dangerous man in F1 ?

Readers of some British newspapers might be under the impression that an accident waiting to happen has been unleashed on Formula One.
“F1’s most dangerous man?” asked the Daily Mail, over a picture of Jaime Alguersuari, a 19-year-old Spaniard with a piercing gaze and next to no experience at the wheel of a grand prix car.
“Drivers warn new boy could be dangerous on track,” said the Guardian
Alguersuari will become Formula One’s youngest ever, and probably the least experienced, race driver when he debuts for Toro Rosso in Hungary on Sunday, and some are concerned about the safety implications.
Championship leader Jenson Button, who made his debut with similar fanfare as a 20-year-old fresh from Formula Three in 2000, could relate to what he must be feeling.
“There was a lot of pressure when I started because I was one of the new age young drivers and it was a real surprise for me exiting the pits behind Michael Schumacher, a guy I had watched on television for many years and really looked up to,” he recalled.
“It was a little bit surprising. It wasn’t driving the car, it was all the technical side of it and the engineering side.
“A Formula Three car is very simple in the way it works, it’s very different to a Formula One car. There’s a lot more to take in and a lot more to work with.”
It will be a baptism of fire but what if the teenager confounds his critics? Could he in fact turn out to be the next Fernando Alonso?
Reading his resume, it has to be said that he looks far from a liability. There have been plenty of drivers over the years with far more questionable talents (but plenty of money).
Alguersuari is the youngest champion ever in British Formula Three — the series that served as a springboard for Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen among other greats.
There have of course been a good many other F3 champions who never made the grade, but Alguersuari is not exactly wet behind the ears.
He started in go-karts at the age of eight and has been racing cars since he was 15. In 118 races, he has won 17 times with 36 podiums. His team appear convinced that he has what it takes.
Most dangerous man or champion of the future? Time will tell. Let’s hope he gets plenty of it.

Alan Baldwin

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