After finishing seventh place in what he described as “my best” race of his short grand Prix career, Jaime Alguersuari was bullish about the Toro Rosso team’s prospects for the remainder of the season and into the next year, staking his claim to remain with the Faenza squad in 2012.
Alguersuari and team-mate Sébastien Buemi finished seventh and ninth respectively in Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix – the team’s best result of the year – to close to within three points of seventh-placed Sauber in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
The 21-year-old attributed the team’s recent upswing in performance to its agressive behind-the-scenes development programme, citing the latest update installed on the Ferrari-powered STR6 as a huge step in the team’s competitiveness.
“The reality is that the Toro Rosso team has done a fantastic job, not just this weekend, but also going back to Suzuka, where we introduced some updates on the car,” he explained. “In Japan, we did not make the most of them but in the few days in between the races the team has done really well to move forward.
“The car had fantastic straight line speed which is how I managed to pass Nico [Rosberg] on the final lap.
“I am very happy for the team who have worked so hard, especially the mechanics fitting all these new parts. We are closer to Sauber now and with three races remaining, I think we have a chance of passing them.”
Having made his F1 debut as the sport’s youngest-ever driver in mid-2009, speculation about his ongoing future won’t go away, with rumours that Red Bull
puppet-master advisor Dr Helmut Marko is considering shaking up the team’s driver line-up for 2012.
Next month’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix will see either Alguersuari or Buemi sit out in Friday practice in place of Red Bull protégé Jean–Éric Vergne, but the decision as to who vacates the cockpit will be based on whichever Toro Rosso driver is lower in the Drivers’ Championship standings. Currently, Alguersuari sits seven points clear of his Swiss team-mate.
“This is not important, only getting Toro Rosso ahead of Sauber,” Alguersuari told Spanish news agency EFE, when asked about the upcoming races.
“I think we’ve taken a huge leap. I am very excited because next year we can have a great car,” he added, staking his claim for one of the seats at Toro Rosso in 2012.
Certainly, Alguersuari is of the opinion that the team’s line-up should remain unchanged for 2012, adding that Buemi is “also doing a good job”.