Jaime Alguersuari – one of Formula 1’s most-likeable drivers on the grid and (now) in the International Media Centre – is celebrating his 22nd birthday today!
Described by many of our female readers as the sexiest driver to have graced the sport in recent years – apparently it’s down to his bright blue eyes and brooding good looks, we’re told! – Jaime created history at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix as the youngest ever driver to qualify for a race, aged just 19 years, 125 days.
Enjoying backing from the Red Bull group fairly early in his motorsport career, Jaime rocketed through the junior ranks, winning the 2008 British Formula 3 championship in commanding style.
Midway through his maiden season in the Renault World Series championship, Jaime earned a Formula 1 call-up with Scuderia Toro Rosso as the replacement for the hapless Sébastien Bourdais.
Little was expected of him in his first few outings, but he acquitted himself reasonably well and saw the chequered flag on three occasions in the eight races he drove for the team that year.
Retained for the 2010 season, he claimed his first points’ finish at the third round at Malaysia, finishing ninth after some excellent overtaking moves during the race, giving the first of many indications that he was a hard-charging racer. He claimed two further points’ finishes, in Spain and Abu Dhabi, finishing the season nineteenth in the standings.
He remained with the Italian team for one more season, and it was undoubtedly a great platform upon which a long Formula 1 career should have evolved. Despite initially struggling with the Pirelli tyres, Jaime put in a string of great drives in the mid-season. He finished in the points seven times, finishing fourteenth overall and one spot ahead of team-mate Buemi.
Despite earning praise from rival drivers and team principals and to the almost universal amazement of many F1 insiders, Jaime was sensationally fired by the team and dropped from Red Bull’s payroll at the end of the year. Despite this flagrant slap in the face, his quiet dignity was refreshing to say the least, and gave rise to a maturity beyond his years.
With all of the available decent drives snaffled up for the 2012 season, Jaime eased into the role of co-commentator with BBC Radio 5 Live alongside James Allen while he continues to plug away at getting back onto the grid.
Having had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing him and meeting him in the F1 paddock last weekend at the Australian Grand Prix (pictured above), we wish him a very happy birthday today and a speedy return to the grid.
[Images via BlogF1, EFTM, GOGPSeries, LAT, Red Bull Media, Sutton Images, XPB]
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