While Sebastian Vettel took the trophy in Valencia’s European GP, drive of the day belongs to Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari.
Consecutive eighth places might not sound like world-class performance, but when starting from the pitlane in Canada and 18th in Valencia, Jaime Alguersuari’s last two races have been phenomenal. As might be expected, the Spanish driver was particularly pleased to score on his home territory.
The key to Jaime’s result was a decision to pit only twice. He was the only points-scorer to go against the prevailing view that a three-stop strategy was optimum for the Valencia Street Circuit. Before heading off to celebrate, he explained to us that it was a pre-planned strategy, rather than an off-the-cuff decision mid-race – the likes of which have become very popular this season as team strategists analyse on-the-fly laptimes and gaps.
“That wasn’t the case today, the team took the decision before the race. We planned to do only two stops because our performance over the weekend showed that the tyre was consistent, and we really thought we could get the performance from it to make only two stops work. We tried it, it worked and we were very, very fast, especially in the second stint. So I’m very happy.”
In what was easily the dullest F1 race of the season, Alguersuari’s performance was a high point as he diced with other midfield runners on different strategies, including his team-mate Sébastien Buemi. With his reputation as a driver useful in a scrap vindicated, Alguersuari suggested that the performance today was potentially more important than the outcome, though the points were an appropriate reward for the hard work the team had put in over recent weeks.
'You need to look to your performance, look at your problems and then solve them'
“Well, the car was good, the car was consistent, the car was balanced – which hasn’t been the case in the past. The performance from this race is not just in the result, it’s the effort from so many working days from the team in Faenza and the work we’ve done at the races this year.
“At the end everyone wants the result. Sometimes you have problems, as I’ve had this season, and you struggle. So you need to look to your performance, look at your problems and then solve them. Personally, I’m very happy because we seem to have gained a better understanding of the tyres here.”
In the last laps of the race, on his only set of medium tyres, Jaime needed to fight off a determined challenge from Force India’s Adrian Sutil.
“I definitely struggled a bit with the prime set, because Sutil was pushing very, very hard and I lost a bit of time letting Sebastian Vettel by [to lap Alguersuari]. I went a bit too wide into turn one and picked up some marbles on my tyres, and struggled to get them clean again. It made life a little bit difficult, but I was able to hang on.”
Alguersuari eventually crossed the finishing line 0.4 ahead of Sutil, having done 19 laps on his first set of soft tyres, 23 laps on his second and 17 on the first and only set of medium compounds.
- Follow Jaime Alguersuari on Twitter @AlguersuariJA
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- Official F1 website, formula1.com