Former Formula 1 driver Jaime Alguersuari has revealed that he turned down an offer from Lotus to become Kimi Raikkonen’s team-mate, believing he would be better off at Toro Rosso, only to be dropped by the team out of the blue.
Alguersuari joined Toro Rosso in 2009, drafted in mid-season for the Hungarian Grand Prix to replace Sebastien Bourdais. He would fail to score in his seven races that season having been promoted from Formula Renault 3.5.
“To tell you the truth, I was stunned, I was also a bit worried,” the Spaniard told La Gazzetta. “I didn’t know the STR4 at all, nor an F1 car in general. I had to leave everything aside and be ready immediately, with a car that couldn’t fight for the victory or the podium. It wasn’t easy.”
He would go on to outscore team-mate Sebastien Buemi in 2011, 15 points to 26, with seven top ten finishes in the final 13 races of the season, but that didn’t prove enough to save his seat, which he admitted was “hurtful”.
“I still do not understand how it could have happened,” added Alguersuari. “I had finished ahead of my team-mate Buemi. After the results at the height of that season. [After] the Canadian GP we had solved the problem of tyre wear in the race, bringing the STR6 almost always inside the top ten.
“Even at the end of the season those of the team called me saying that there would be good sensations for 2012. [But] the day after he [Helmut Marko] called me and told me that there was no chance for me and Buemi to stay. I was hurt by the treatment.”
Alguersuari revealed that he had an offer to partner Raikkonen at Lotus, but turned down the offer with the belief that his seat was safe at Toro Rosso.
“I even canceled a contract with Lotus in Abu Dhabi to become the second driver of Kimi Raikkonen. The Renault folks told me that I would have to sign immediately or the offer would vanish, but I decided to continue with Toro Rosso because there was a good atmosphere around me.”
Asked about his relationship with Marko and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner he said: “I want to say that I still had a great relationship with him [Marko] and that what happened has nothing to do with their decision to leave me out at the end of the season. I will always be grateful to him, to Red Bull and to the owner Dietrich Mateschitz. They gave me the opportunity to race in F1.
But the relationship wasn’t the same with Horner, with Alguersuari adding: “He was not there, neither him nor Adrian Newey. Even on the track, Christian was not a very friendly type.”