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Monday, February 18, 2013

Did Force India give "verbal commitments" to Alguersuari?

Jaime Alguersuari says he had a verbal contract with a team that "usually scores" and that he turned down offers in other motorsport championships because of his belief that it would happen.

No from Force India - the former Toro Rosso driver disappointed
Copyright: Getty Images
"I’ve looked in faith and longing that the value of my sporting career, and the verbal commitments received, would materialize with my return to F1 in 2013. This has not happened. Those who committed themselves with me have given me reasons that I must accept, but that I do not share. F1 has become an auction".
While the team is not named the above quote rules out the front running teams of Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Lotus, none of whom have paying drivers, so commercial concerns do not apply.

It also rules out Williams as they were never going to give up a race-winning, cash-rich, Pastor Maldonado, and they let Bruno Senna go in favour of a non-paying driver in the shape of Valtteri Bottas.

I think we can also say for sure that Red Bull and Toro Rosso are off the table given the fact it was reported last year that that Adrian Newey made the decision to get he and Sebastian Buemi out of Toro Rosso in favour of Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.  They were unlikely to come calling.

That's seven out of the eleven teams off the list.  Then we have his statement that the team "usually scores" so we can rule out Caterham and Marussia. That leaves us with two teams, both of whom went "commercial" this year: Sauber and Force India.

I consider the timing of the statement is important.  Sauber identified Nico Hulkenberg at the close of last season and announced Esteban Gutierrez in November last year.  If they had been in discussions with Alguersuari his announcement would have come a lot earlier than this.  This is implicit in his statement that he turned down other opportunities for this season in other Motorsporting Championships. He would have had plenty of time to find another drive if Sauber were the team.

This leaves one team. Word must have reached him last week from Force India that a decision had been made and this has led to the issuing of his press release.

The sad truth is that, at 22 years old, he relied on what he felt were definitive talks that secured his future.  This shows his naivety. The F1 paddock is not called the "Piranha Club" because of its cute, cuddly and trustworthy nature; to survive you need to have the right people on your side.  Jaime's Management team should never have risked everything on a verbal gambit.

Jaime Alguersuari wants to go racing and it is the job of his management to point out the realities of his options in a way that gives him as sense of what is practical and likely; not the dream of what might possibly, maybe happen were all of the stars to align and Marussia build a car which would only win championships with Jaime behind the wheel.

Sadly, that is what appears to have happened.  I don't know who manages him but they have obviously given him unrealistic expectations, even if that is simply by not spelling out how worthless a verbal agreement is in the real world.

He convinced himself last year that his knowledge of the Pirelli tyres would get him a seat this year, whilst also referring to his unhindered access to every team in the pitlane thanks to his job with BBC Radio 5's F1 coverage. The two jobs have not provided him with the opportunity he had hoped for.