The Scuderia Toro Rosso pairing of Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi remain unfazed about the presence of the team’s new third driver, Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Perth-born Ricciardo has been hotly tipped as the Red Bull group’s next F1 sensation due to his excellent results in junior formulae and the impressive pace he has demonstrated in off-season test sessions. This year will see him dovetail his commitments in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with drives in Friday free practice sessions at most Grands Prix.
Additionally, rumours continue to persist that either Alguersuari or Buemi could be given the heave-ho for Ricciardo if they fail to deliver for the team.
Ricciardo (driving for Red Bull) was quickest in the Abu Dhabi Young Driver tests late last year.
But the drivers – whose STR6 challenger has proven a surprise package in pre-season testing – are trumpeting the value that Ricciardo’s arrival will bring to the team, rather than looking over their shoulders.
“It’s very important for us that Daniel is in the car, as we have so many things which were not [on the car] last year,” Alguersuari told AUTOSPORT.
“We know Daniel is a fast driver, and we will have another voice in the team to judge what we need to improve, what we need to achieve. And it’s also great for him to get this chance of driving an F1 car on Fridays, getting to know the tracks. I think Daniel is an important part of the team.
Buemi, similarly, is of the opinion that the loss of every second Grand Prix’s FP1 session won’t harm his own prospects, saying: “Not driving on Friday morning every two Grands Prix … I have to be honest, you don’t do too much, and the circuit is not clean.
“And we will have a kind of comparison, you know? Daniel has been really quick in a Red Bull car, and now we will see in a Toro Rosso. Obviously he will have the same car as us, so it’s good for the team because they know that he has been doing a good job. I’m looking forward to it as well.”
But Toro Rosso can’t yet shake its reputation for chopping and changing its driver line-up if its established pilots fail to deliver. Scott Speed was turfed in favour of Sebastian Vettel in mid-2007, while Sébastien Bourdais was dumped in favour of Alguersuari in mid-2009.
|Victims of STR’s merry-go-round: Speed (left) & Bourdais (right) have both been cast out of the team in recent years|
Therefore, there are obvious suggestions that Ricciardo’s presence creates extra impetus on the established pairing to deliver results, not to mention the potential disadvantage one might experience trying to ‘blood’ a new recruit, as Buemi argues.
“It’s pretty difficult if you change the driver all the time,” the Swiss driver added.. “You lose time getting up to speed with them. Obviously the driver has to be good – you don’t want to spend one or two years with a slow driver.”
But Alguersuari believes that the only pressure he should feel is the pressure he places on himself to perform.
“In the end, the pressure is always in your hands,” he said. “You live and you die with your own pressure. It’s never the others, it’s yours, it’s what you create in your mind. It’s not a negative thing, actually it’s a very positive thing.”