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Alguersuari in at F1's deep end

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F1 Mole | 18:35 UK time, Thursday, 23 July 2009

When you are the new boy in Formula 1, a word of advice from a double world champion is probably just the tonic on your debut race weekend.

Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari is to become in Hungary this weekend the youngest ever grand prix driver - at the age of 19 years and 125 days - and on Thursday morning Renault's Fernando Alonso paid him an impromptu visit.

Alonso may be relieved to see another Spaniard join him on the grid, but the 2005 and 2006 world champion also dispensed some pearls of wisdom for the Barcelona-born debutant.

"He congratulated me for getting the seat," says Alguersuari. "He's very happy. He also told me to have fun and enjoy the moment.

"I'm relaxed, I know what I can do. I know what people expect from me and the most important thing is that I know what I have to do."Jaime Alguersuari

Alguersuari, the 2008 British Formula Three champion, may know what is expected of him when he takes an F1 car around a track for the first time during Friday practice at the Hungaroring but his peers in the paddock were not so sure he would be able to carry it off.

The ban on in-season testing this season means the 19-year-old has only taken part in two straight line tests, but despite his youth and lack of experience Red Bull have backed his natural talent by fast-tracking him into F1 to replace Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais at junior team Toro Rosso.

Championship leader Jenson Button, who tested for both McLaren and Prost before making his debut for Williams 10 years ago, warned: "At this age, this could destroy his career. I'm surprised he's been allowed to race this weekend."

Ferrari's Felipe Massa added: "For me it's wrong. It's not good for him. Maybe he's an incredible talent and he will do much better than everybody thinks but he can burn himself very quickly."

Alguersuari's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, who had to find his own sponsors to support his early career, added: "When you arrive in Formula 1 you should be ready.

"I've never been a big fan of F1 being a learning school but it seems like it is these days.

"Jaime will be quick enough and he's going to learn but it's still not easy when you arrive."

In theory, there is no reason why Alguersuari should not be able to cope.

Sauber were criticised for hiring a precocious Finn called Kimi Raikkonen in 2001 despite his lack of experience behind the wheel - he graduated straight from Formula Renault, three rungs below F1 and one below F3.

Raikkonen proved his doubters wrong with his natural speed and claimed the world title six years later with Ferrari.

McLaren's three-time champion Ayrton Senna and double winner Mika Hakkinen also both went on to huge success after being promoted from F3.

For now, though, Alguersuari will want nothing more than to prove his doubters wrong and survive his baptism of fire.


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