Teams conducts tests with young drivers

© Ubaid Parkar, 16 September 2011
Virgin Racing reserve Robert Wickens at Vairano on Tuesday during the test
© Virgin Racing

Several young drivers recently took part in tests with Formula 1 teams this week as they prepared for the final six races of the season.

Sauber driver Sergio Perez, who is also a part of Ferrari Driver Academy, took the wheel of the Italian outfit’s 2009 F1 car, the F60, at the Fiorano track on Thursday under Maranello-based outfit’s young drivers’ programme.

“Sergio impressed, despite this being his first time at the wheel of a Ferrari,” said Academy head Luca Baldisserri on the team’s website. “He proved to be aggressive and quick right from the start and was able to adapt to the car in a very short space of time.

“He is very mature for his age, displaying an understanding that goes beyond the time he has spent driving single-seaters”

The Mexican driver hailed the “special day” adding that driving the scarlet car was a dream.

“I want to thank Ferrari for giving me this chance to improve and learn, given the limited number of testing opportunities during the year,” Perez said.

“I think there is room for me to do well where I am and that’s my current target. It’s impossible to say how things will go and my dream is to become world champion and it would be nice if it could happen with a team like this one,” he added.

The team’s test driver Jules Bianchi then followed gathering useful experience on the way although his programme largely focussed on acquiring data.

“These laps all count a lot towards the future I’d like to have in Formula 1,” Bianchi pointed out. “Now, I’m looking forward to the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi and it will be very interesting to go from the 2009 car to the 2011 one, as it will be a good opportunity for me to try elements like DRS and KERS for the very first time.”

Williams conducted its straightline test at Kemble on Wednesday with its reserve driver and recently crowned GP3 champion Valtteri Bottas. The Grove-based outfit evaluated its upgrade packages meant for the remainder of the season.

Kemble was also the venue for GP2 driver Max Chilton’s first outing in an F1 car when he conducted straightline tests for Force India on Thursday filling in for Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta who had other commitments.

Straightline aero tests were also performed by Virgin Racing at Vairano on Tuesday with its reserve driver, Robert Wickens, who is a member of the squad’s Young Driver Programme.

The Canadian, who currently leads the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship, drove an F1 car for the first time in his career.

“He adapted very quickly to the controls and steering wheel. It has been a very positive experience for him which he has handled very well,” observed team principal John Booth.

Wickens noted, “It was great to work with the team in this way. Driving the car is obviously a natural step in my progression and education as a reserve Driver with Virgin Racing."

Freshly-crowned GP2 champion and Lotus Renault GP third driver Romain Grosjean completed 600km of testing for the Enstone-based outfit in Valencia on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“The aim of the drive was to get me used to drive an F1 car again,” the Frenchman, who will be a part of the team for the flyaway races, said.

“It felt different compared to 2009 because I am more experienced now. I enjoyed the car from the moment I jumped in and I enjoyed working with the engineers,” Grosjean added.


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