Mike Stevens | Jul 24, 2009

SPANISH DEBUTANT Jaime Alguersuari has come under fire from members of the Formula One paddock for being too inexperienced to compete at the elite level.

Doubts have been raised over Alguersuari’s preparedness to step into motor racing’s top category having never completing a lap in the Toro Rosso.

The 19-year-old has only managed to complete a series of straight line aerodynamic runs due to the ban on in-season testing, but was eligible for an FIA Superlicense after winning the British F3 Championship last season.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa said Alguersuari is likely to struggle during his first weekend and may undergo damage to his confidence.

"For me, he's too young. I came into Formula 1 I was just 20 and for me it was also quite young. I was too inexperienced to ask what I needed from the car so I made some mistakes. For sure I had a very difficult car to drive, but anyway, it was not easy for me,” he said

"But even for myself, and I can say it was too early for me, I did the whole winter (of testing), so I did many tests in Formula 1. He's never driven a Formula 1 car, or he has driven it in a straight line or whatever.

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

German Grand Prix winner Mark Webber also expressed reservations over Alguersuari’s meteoric rise, claiming drivers shouldn’t be learning on the job.

However, Webber said he expects the youngster to be competitive during his first Grand Prix weekend.

“I've never been a big fan of Formula One being a learning school but it seems like it is these days. I don't think Formula One is a learning school. When you arrive in Formula One you should be ready. It's not a place to learn,” he said

“Anyway, some guys are doing that but it's harder without testing these days. I think we're going to see a bit more of it, maybe, in the future where guys are learning.

“It's not the same case as when we had a guy here a few years ago lapping eight seconds off the pace which was totally ridiculous. Jaime won't be like that, he will be quick enough.”

Webber’s Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, however has leapt to Alguerduari’s defence, saying it was the current state of testing regulations which has forced his former team to take a risk.

"I heard Mark was not so pleased about the fact that Jaime is driving this weekend. I think in the end if there is anything to criticise then I think it is the rules,” he said.

"As you can see, you end up having a situation that a driver is entering F1 without having done a single test. So I think it is extremely difficult for young drivers, independent from their age, the next generation, to get to F1 as you have no chance to prove yourself. You have only one or two days.”

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