Toro Osso replaces French driver with teenager
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Toro Rosso has made 19-year-old Jaime Alguersuari (photo) its new Formula One driver after the team ended its contract with Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais due to bad results, making the Spaniard the youngest driver to race in Formula One.
REUTERS - Spanish teenager Jaime Alguersuari will become the youngest driver to race in Formula One after Toro Rosso named him on Monday as replacement for sacked Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais.
The Barcelona-born driver, born on March 23, 1990, will make his debut at Budapest's Hungaroring this weekend at the age of 19 years and 125 days.
The previous youngest driver was New Zealand's Mike Thackwell, who entered the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix with Tyrrell aged 19 and 183 days.
"I do not expect anything from him for at least his first three races, during which he has to get used to the car, the team and to the Formula One environment," team principal Franz Tost said in a statement.
"Red Bull's stated aim for Scuderia Toro Rosso is that, when possible, it should be used to provide a seat for products of its Young Driver Programme," he added.
"We therefore chose Alguersuari as the most mature driver currently in the programme."
Alguersuari last year became the youngest champion in the British Formula Three series with Carlin Motorsport and was this month appointed test driver for both Red Bull teams. He joined the Red Bull junior team at the age of 15.
"I am aware that I'm facing a very tough challenge, because coming into Formula One is never easy, coming into Formula One in the middle of a season is even harder and doing so without any testing is really difficult," he said.
"But already I feel that I am getting great support from the team, who have quite a reputation for looking after rookie drivers."
Alguersuari's team mate will be Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi, who has scored three points from his first nine races and out-performed 30-year-old Bourdais.
Bourdais, the four times Champ Car champion who was in his second Formula One season, was sacked last week and has threatened legal action for breach of contract.
While Thackwell is currently the youngest to start a race, Germany's Sebastian Vettel holds the records for youngest to start a practice session at a grand prix weekend as well as being youngest points scorer, pole-setter and race winner.
The 22-year-old, now a race winner and championship contender with Red Bull, took part in a Friday session for BMW-Sauber at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix at the age of 19 years and 53 days.
Thackwell's record is contentious, since the New Zealander was involved in a first lap accident on his debut in Montreal and did not make the restart.
Mexico's Ricardo Rodriguez was the youngest starter before Thackwell, making his race debut aged 19 years and 224 days at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix.
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