Battle of the team mates spurs Toro Rosso on

2011 F1 season review

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Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, Monza, 2011

With Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne on Friday testing duty at Toro Rosso during the season, the pressure was on the team’s regular drivers to deliver in 2011.

This produced one of the most intriguing intra-team battles of the season. It began at the first corner of the first lap of the first race, as Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari made contact.

Over the course of the year Buemi generally held the upper hand in qualifying. Alguersuari seemed ill-suited to the new tyres at first and after six races Buemi had scored all the teams’ points.

Alguersuari was not the only driver to be troubled by tyre degradation on the new Pirellis early in the season. But by focussing on his race set-up, often at the expense of qualifying performance, gradually he got on top of the problem and started to deliver.

This produced some remarkable runs from the lower reaches of the grid into the points. Alguersuari finish eighth having started from the pits in Canada. He was eighth in Valencia from 18th on the grid and continued his trend of reaching the points from 18th on the grid at Silverstone and Monza.

Toro Rosso team stats 2011

Best race result (number)7 (2)
Best grid position (number) 6 (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 8 (5/3)
Laps completed (% of total) 1,957 (86.36%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2010) 8th (9th)
Championship points (2010) 41 (13)
Pit stop performance ranking9th

His team mate proved capable of similar feats when they were required of him, rising from 23rd on the grid in Hungary to finish eighth. This was off the back of a poor weekend in Germany where he’d collected a grid penalty for pushing Nick Heidfeld off the track.

The Belgian Grand Prix promised much for the team, with Alguersuari starting a career-best sixth. But he was hit by Bruno Senna at the first corner, ending his race.

Six laps later his team mate joined him in retirement after a collision with Sergio Perez.

In the closing stages of the season it looked as though Toro Rosso were poised to surge past Sauber and Force India to claim sixth in the constructors’ championship – far ahead of their pre-season target of eighth.

Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld, Shanghai

An exhaust-blown diffuser upgrade introduced at Suzuka was key to the team’s surge in performance. The following race in Korea brought their best result since the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, Alguersuari seventh and Buemi ninth.

But reliability problems frustrated the team at this late stage. Buemi was particularly hard done by. He retired when a wheel came off his car after a pit stop at Suzuka, had an engine failure in India and a hydraulics failure in Abu Dhabi.

This ended Buemi’s hopes of beating his team mate and, more importantly, meant the team stayed behind Force India and Sauber in eighth place. That satisfied their pre-season target but team principal Franz Tost admitted his disappointment at not finishing higher.

Nonetheless the team had clearly made progress since last year as it continues to develop its technical department. Further new recruits have been announced for 2012 in the shape of Luca Furbatto and Jon Tomlinson as Toro Rosso continues its conversion from Red Bull chassis customers to full-blown constructors.

But with four drivers vying for a place in F1 next year it will be a fascinating off-season for Toro Rosso.

2011 F1 season review

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Images © Red Bull/Getty images

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Battle of the team mates spurs Toro Rosso on”

  1. Tough to guess what their line will be. But keeping it the same would be fine.

  2. I hope alguersuari is back in 2012 in Torro Rosso, I was surprised by his good pace in race. I want to see more of him.

    1. I agree, somehow I really enjoy seeing him race in F1.

      1. i like jaime aswell and dont want him to get the boot i think buemi has had enough time to rpove himself and his time is up

    2. Agreed. I think he was thrusted into F1 a little too soon, but this year he has really shown his maturirty and ability to make the car work for him. Hopefully he will have a long career in the sport .

  3. There is a little mistake in the article… Alguersuari started 24th in Canada, to be exact from the pitlane… So at the end of the race he earned 16 places…

    And about this:
    “He retired when a wheel came off his car after a pit stop at Suzuka, had an engine failure in India and a hydraulics failure in Abu Dhabi. This ended Buemi’s hopes of beating his team mate”

    Even his probable 10 points lost in 4 races would not help him to overtake Alguersuari in points… Not to mention the Spaniard was also unfortunate in Spa while running 6th after the start…

    About 2012 – it looks both drivers will stay… But my personal wish was to see a Jaime/Daniel pairing, but it probably won t happen…

    1. Have corrected the Canada line.

    2. Remember however that Buemi also retired from 6th in Spa when he was hit by Perez, and that in India he was catching Alguersuari before he retired.
      I think the driver line up should stay the same for next year; I don’t see how they can justify sacking either driver

  4. Ricciardo has done enough to deserve that drive. He’s outshone Liuzzi all season in his rookie year and has plenty of promise for improvement.

  5. Ricciardo will be driving for someone next year, that seems certain, so Toro Rosso’s decision could have an impact on someone like Jarno Trulli’s future.

    I just don’t really understand Trulli’s situation at the moment. He’s got a contract for next year, which was only recently signed. It has been pointed out that the contract doesn’t necessarily guarantee him races, just some role within the team, but at his age, why would he want to stick around as the reserve driver? About the only feedback he seems able to give is “improve the power steering”, and as I have written before, that struck me as an excuse as much as a genuine reason for his poor results this season. Perhaps he would accept having his contract bought out, but why? I can’t imagine the money he is getting from Lotus/Caterham matches his earlier career earnings, so wouldn’t he prefer to have one last season in F1? It’s not like he had a proper farewell in the 2011 season, and after such a long and respectable career, I’d say he deserves one.

    I don’t see what Ricciardo could gain from another season with one of the “new” teams that he wouldn’t gain from Toro Rosso. If they opt to stick with Buemi and Alguersuari, it will be as much through indecision as anything else. They are both solid drivers, and I think Buemi had a better season than results suggest, but I’m struggling to imagine either of them going on to drive successfully for their parent team, Red Bull.

    1. i could see jamie doing a reasonable job if he replaced webber, but i suspect he would like to challenge vettel. And that wouldnt be in the job description…

  6. i would like to see Sutil & Alguersuari pair up for 2012… if Webber fails to impress one of them can replace him at RBR in 2013. i’m not in favor of having STR only be rookie testing team for RBR but also a team which is allowed to develop in a proper team & can fight for 5th & 6th place in the championship.

  7. After two years of this driver pair, I must say that I’d put my money on Sebastien Buemi. He’s more consistent, can deliver, makes few mistakes and is fast. Alguersuari might seem more spectacular at times, but I do think he is still slightly the inferior driver. Both are very good in my view, though, and deserve a seat in F1.

    1. Buemi and more consistent? Yes, maybe… But when it comes to BEST results of the team, he is still waiting to better or at least equal his quali and race results from 2009… And this speaks against him… There have been also claims that he is the faster driver, that is also partly true, but only in qualifying… It was many times seen that Alguersuari has similar or better pace on long distance… And Jaime also earned 62% of all STR points even with his one lap pace handicap… Buemi is solid, but I don t think he is the better driver… The more experienced Alguersuari is, the more he can deliever, when it matters…

      1. Good point, but Buemi has had by far the worst luck of the two. I also cant get over the fact that Alguersauri needs half a season to get “used” to every car, a driver needs to be strong from the beginning to the end.

        1. Yeah, around Monaco I was convinced that Alguersuari needed the sack. He recovered well, but it’s taken him until his third season to beat Buemi.

    2. I would keep Alguersuari as he’s shown he can be a good driver, but I’d keep Buemi as his bad luck prevented him from beating him.

    3. I agree with the top comment

      1. (That Buemi is the better driver)

  8. I want to see them both in the car next year. They’ve both impressed me, and for those two young lads to nearly claim sixth (Buemi’s reliability didn’t help) was fantastic to watch. 8th somehow doesn’t seem representative.

  9. So… Jaime’s DJ career is coming along nicely isn’t it?

  10. It was a great performance by both of them this year. I hope they keep going, specially Alguersuari. His race at Korea was superb.

    1. @fer-no65 Certainly was. One of my favourites of the season.

  11. BUEMI!!!!!!!!!

  12. I hope they keep both drivers next year, it would be nice to settle once and for all which is better.

  13. More development from the drivers and the team. They were presented with a real hill to climb last year when the rules changed and they’re holding up well I think. I really admire them for choosing two still relatively inexperienced, young drivers while trying to build a team whilst not being afraid of trying out other drivers at the same time.

    Their straight-line speed served them well in Korea, I particularly remember Alguersuari picking off Rosberg in the dying moments.

    With regards to the drivers performance, I think they’re about the most evenly matched you’re going to find on the grid. Buemi seems to hit the floor running while Alguersuari finds his feet but ultimately delivers the marginally better result (albeit down to Buemi’s issues).

    I would not like to see either driver replaced. I think they both have plenty left to give.

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