Video: Autoblog hitches a ride with F1 ace Jaime Alguersuari
It's hard not to feel slightly envious of Jaime Alguersuari, he might be just 19 years old, but despite his youth, the current Toro Rosso Formula One driver already has an impressive CV and many awards under his belt. This includes being the youngest GP starter of all time.
Perhaps less well known is the fact that he's from Barcelona and is the international brand ambassador for SEAT.
To celebrate Jaime's association with the Spanish arm of the Volkswagen Group, SEAT recently held an event at the Parcmotor Castelloli circuit near Barcelona and Autoblog UK was invited.
After go-karting and learning how nimble the Leon Cupra and Cupra R are through a twisty, wet handling circuit, I was given the chance to sit alongside Jaime for a couple of hot laps round the circuit in a 301bhp Leon Supercopa.
The Leon Supercopa is basically the car used in a single-make racing series, run as part of the German DTM touring car programme. It might look similar to the Leon World Touring Car, but the Supercopa has more power, six-speed DSG transmission and a mechanical differential for the front wheels.
It's early afternoon before I get my passenger ride, but Alguersuari has been pounding the Castelloli circuit in the Leon to entertain the media present since early morning. Boy it's hot and I'm not even in the car yet. Squeezing myself into a set of poor-fitting overalls is not making me feel any better either. How am I going to climb over the rollcage when I can barely bend over?
Finally, it's my go and I manage to get into the Leon with some decency, we shake hands and one of the technicians takes my breath away as he straps me in. I take a first look round my surroundings, there's not much left of the Leon's dashboard, I'm sitting further back and lower than standard and more importantly there's no air-conditioning or interior fan of any sort.
It's baking in the cabin and as Jaime accelerates along the pit lane, I can feel it getting warmer as the heat from the engine washes through the Leon's bare cabin. Jaime must be sweltering, but there's no evidence of fatigue as he attacks the first corner of the circuit and is wringing every one of those 301 horses out of the 2.0-litre TFSI engine.
I'm trying to concentrate on the track and at the same time look across at Jaime's technique. Even though we're just on the out lap, his commitment is obvious. Steering movements are minimal, yet we're doing tight apexes on each of the corners.
The first thing that impresses, besides Jaime's smooth but fast driving style, is the Leon's massive levels of grip. The next are the brakes, which from the passenger side seemed fade free and much stronger than a roadcar's, meaning Mr Alguersuari could brake much later.
I also liked the mean sound of the TFSI engine and the way that with the sequential transmission, Jaime could make the Leon crackle and pop much like his Toro Rosso F1 car on full chat.
The commitment and speed increased throughout my three laps with Jaime, but the drive remained smooth and he seemed unfussed. He even found time to make slight adjustments to the brake bias, as he twisted the switch by my left knee a couple of times.
Like all good things, my laps were over all too soon. Still you can see how I got on with Jaime and the SEAT Leon Supercopa in the video of the action below.