Jaime Alguersuari & Sebastien Buemi are such darlings!

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

As promised, I’m digging up the F1 interviews I did last year as part of the lead-up to the 2011 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix!


Starting off with Sebastian Vettel, I’ve had Christian Horner, Mark Webber and Adrian Newey of Red Bull Racing. Yesterday it was Scuderia Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and today it is Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi of the Scuderia Toro Rosso team. I interviewed them twice – once at Sepang and once more in Singapore.


They are really young and I enjoy talking to them! :)  


They may be team-mates and they are amongst the youngest drivers on the track, but CHERYL TAY finds out that both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari are driven by different motivations.

JAIME ALGUERSUARI: The Accidental Pilot


Jaime Alguersuari never thought of becoming a Formula One driver. When he first tried go-karting at the age of seven in Catalonia, Spain, it was pure passion as he enjoyed driving.


“I was also doing other sports like golf and tennis. I started competing at the European international kart racing level at 13 before moving on to world karting championships. Then when I was 15, Red Bull approached me and I joined the Red Bull Junior team,” said the 20-year-old Spaniard.


Under the Red Bull Junior programme, Alguersuari went on to race at single-seaters in Formula Renault and Formula 3.


“Thanks to Red Bull, I did my first year in single-seater racing in Europe. That was fantastic and it was there with the Red Bull Junior team that I saw the possibility of going into F1. When I was in karting, I never thought of F1. I just wanted to be a professional karter and be world champion for the Intrepid official factory team who supported me in 2005. That was the only thing I wanted to do – karting, karting and lots of karting.”


Alguersuari’s entry into F1 was quite unlike the typical driver. He was racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2009 when he was asked to drive in F1 as a replacement for sacked Sebastian Bourdais of Toro Rosso.


“To be honest, the start to my F1 career was very strange. It was a difficult situation. I won the 2008 British Formula Three Championship and then I was fighting for the championship in Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2009 when I was asked to go to F1. It’s the middle of the season, I’ve not had any testing, never driven a competitive lap in a F1 car before, but it was something I wanted to do,” said the youngest ever driver to start a F1 Grand Prix at the age of 19 years and 125 days.


He had a most stressful start to F1, retiring from five out of his eight races. For someone who never expected to be in F1, Alguersuari took a bold step when he stepped up to it and faces a steep learning curve in 2010.


“One thing I’ve always had in mind is to quit F1 from my head. I never expected to be in F1 until it found me in 2009. Life is changing a lot, so at all times you need to have fun in what you are doing, to enjoy the moment and to do your best. Never keep thinking about F1 and wanting to get there. F1 will come or it will not. I think it’s a mistake if you set yourself to be in F1 and then you’re not. F1 will come if you’re good, naturally. That’s the only thing I will say to young drivers who are pushing,” said the six-feet tall young adult who scored his first points of his F1 career at the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix.


1. If there is one criticism of the Singapore track, what is it and why?

Based on last year’s experience? The weather. It was very hot and humid. This year I get the impression it’s cooler.


2. If you can choose any woman in the world to be your team-mate in F1 now, who would it be and why?

Sebastian Buemi’s cousin Natasha Gachnang, a touring car race driver who is quite fast; I’ve raced against her before. Wait, did you say anyone? Then I might say Britney Spears, so I can teach her something different or Paris Hilton maybe?


3. Do you prefer short or long hair on women?

No particular preference; I don’t mind them in short or long hair as it depends on the individual looks, I have seen some attractive women with short hair.


4. One thing you must try before you die?

Skydiving! I think it’s something cool and worth trying at least once in your life.


5. Most outrageous thing you’ve eaten?

Crocodile meat when I was in Africa.


6. Name a crazy thing you’ve done.

When I was younger, there was once when I went partying all night and without getting any sleep I went straight to training. I drove 300 kilometres in the go-kart and I even went running. By the time I got home in the afternoon I was completely exhausted!


7. One person – dead or alive – you would really like to meet?

Luciano, a successful electronic DJ and producer from Chile; and also Lance Armstrong. Why Lance? Because I think these professional cyclists train very very hard! They clock about 42,000 kilometres a year; we F1 drivers don’t even drive that kind of mileage. I’m a big fan of cycling and Lance.


8. iPhone or Blackberry?

Ah, that’s difficult. I am using both the iPhone and the Blackberry actually; Blackberry is faster and more efficient, whereas iPhone is good for its many applications like Facebook, Twitter, and it has good camera functions. But I would sway more towards the iPhone!


9. Tattoo or piercing?

Tattoo, always. I have a self-designed tattoo on my left wrist, which I got when I was 15. My parents weren’t too pleased about it but anyway, I think there’s a lot of meaning behind a tattoo. Nowadays people do it for cosmetic reasons but there’s actually spiritual and divine origins to tattoos.


10. Boxers or briefs?

Boxers, because they are much more comfortable.


11. Slippers or sandals?

Sandals; neater and cleaner.


12. How many children do you want in future? Sons or daughters?

Three! Two sons and a daughter, with the girl being the youngest so her brothers can protect and take care of her.



Team: Scuderia Toro Rosso 

Debut: 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix

Date of Birth: 23 March 1990

Place of Birth: Barcelona, Spain

Residence: Barcelona, Spain

Marital Status: Single

Nationality: Spanish

Languages: English, Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan 


SEBASTIEN BUEMI: Staying in F1 is tougher than getting there

When I asked him what he would be if he was not driving in Formula One today, Sebastien Buemi of Toro Rosso replied,” I don’t know to be honest. I always thought I would do this, so I didn’t think of what I would do if I wasn’t an F1 driver. I’ll probably still be at school I guess.”


After a successful career in kart racing, Formula BMW, Formula 3 and Formula Renault, Buemi was appointed test and reserve driver for Red Bull in 2008 before being signed on as one of the main drivers for Toro Rosso in 2009.


“F1 is fantastic so everybody should give their best to get here; to be the world’s best drivers and to drive the fastest cars in the world. They need to try their best, even if sometimes it’s a bit difficult,” said the 21-year-old Swiss national.


Getting in and out of his car only from the left side as a superstition, Buemi first tried karting at five and knew from the start that he wanted to be an F1 driver.


“I really only understood what F1 is when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I was very lucky to have Red Bull supporting me, so I can concentrate on racing. It is very important to be sponsored by someone, especially at that level because you wouldn’t be able to afford it if you don’t have backing. Without sponsors like Red Bull, I would not be here and would not be able to do all the seasons that I did.”


Like all the other drivers, Buemi wants to be successful in his F1 career and win races as well as the championship. He also understands that the driver is as equally important as the car.


“If you don’t have a competitive car, it’s hard to be at the top. It’s very important to have a good car, but a good driver is just as crucial because he can improve the car and give the right direction. There are a lot of things that you can improve by being a very good driver and focusing on the job.”


Getting to F1 is tough but staying in it is even tougher.


“F1 is completely different from the other racing categories. Now GP2 is quite close to it, but in terms of the actual race weekend, the tyres, how you work with the engineers and more, everything is really very different so it’s very important to understand well and be competitive.


To be an F1 driver, one must be passionate, quick and also hardworking because success doesn’t come on its own. One needs to understand all the various aspects, on top of just driving faster. It’s not easy.”


One thing we may not know about him?


“That I hold an Italian passport on top of my Swiss nationality,” said Buemi who scored his first points in F1 at his debut at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix.


1. If there is one criticism of the Singapore track, what is it and why?

The difficulties in overtaking on such a narrow circuit and for being one of the bumpiest tracks. Then again, once in a while bumpy is good as it is more demanding for the drivers: harder to control the car.


2. If you can choose any woman in the world to be your team-mate in F1 now, who would it be and why?

I would want the fastest guy in the world to be my team-mate if possible, as that way I would be able to learn more.


3. Do you prefer short or long hair on women?

Long hair; not a must but it’s a personal preference.


4. One thing you must try before you die?

Jumping off a plane in mid-air! What do they call it? Ah, skydiving!


5. One person – dead or alive – you would really like to meet?

Roger Federer; he’s Swiss like me and he’s doing really well.


6. iPhone or Blackberry?

Both! I have both of them.


7. Tattoo or piercing?

Tattoo; then again, I don’t mind tattoo for men and piercings for women.


8. Boxers or briefs?

Boxers, because they look a lot better.


9. Slippers or sandals?

Flip flops, they’re more casual!


10. Berms or jeans?

Berms if the weather’s hot, jeans if the weather’s cold; but generally jeans as they are more presentable to be in them.


11. How many children do you want in future? Sons or daughters?

Er.. I don’t know. I mean I do want to have children, why not? But I don’t care at the moment as it’s the least of my concerns!


12. Craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Driving a Formula Ford at the age of nine; my dad took me to the track to try it and my mum thought it was totally crazy, but I loved it



Team: Scuderia Toro Rosso

Debut: 2009 Australian Grand Prix

Date of Birth: 31 October 1988

Place of Birth: Aigle, Switzerland

Residence: Bahrain

Marital Status: Single

Nationality: Swiss

Languages: English, French, Italian, German


Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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