• Second Barcelona Test, Day Three

Surprise test convinces Valsecchi he is ready for F1

ESPN Staff
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Davide Valsecchi: "I wasn't at my maximum and there was a big margin" © Sutton Images
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Davide Valsecchi says his morning in the Lotus at Barcelona on Saturday has convinced him he is quick enough to race in F1.

The GP2 champion drove 16 laps in the E21 after Kimi Raikkonen fell ill overnight and was not deemed fit enough to drive. Valsecchi jumped at the chance and performed some exhaust comparison checks before setting a 1:23.448, putting him ninth overall but within a second of fourth-placed Pastor Maldonado.

"This morning gave me the confidence that I'm strong enough to be in the group, but I would like to be strong enough to try to win races - that is the aim. Lotus is a top team and Raikkonen is strong enough to win the championship so I would like to be like him. If Kimi finishes third, I am ready enough to finish sixth."

He added: "What I know is that in the normal conditions with fuel and all that stuff, the car is competitive. Me doing two runs and being immediately in the group means the car is fast. I wasn't at my maximum and there was a big margin so it means Lotus, and also Valsecchi, can put Lotus on top. It means that the car is fast, from my point of view."

With Valsecchi's overalls and seat already being transported to Australia for the first race of the season where he will be the team's reserve, he said he had to borrow almost all his kit from Raikkonen.

"When they told me that I didn't have overalls and the seat is the one of Raikkonen's, I said 'Good, it's the seat of an ex-world champion so it will be fast for sure'," he explained. "We used a bit of foam, but for one morning it's not an issue. The team made it really fast and really quick and solved the situation really easily. For the running, we had to do two tests with exhausts and then we had a technical problem and we stopped on the track. For the last run they let me drive for three laps so it was a good experience."

Race driver Romain Grosjean took over from Valsecchi in the afternoon and the Italian will now be on standby for the rest of the season in case one of the race drivers can't race. However, he will get another test in one of the team's two-year-old cars in early April and will also take part in simulator work. When asked if he was surprised not to get a race drive in 2013 after winning the GP2 title last year, he said that Lotus was the only offer he received that did not require financial backing.

"We received calls but they were asking me [for sponsors] and the only thing I have is a Fiat Punto - in red! In Italy the economy is not so strong at the moment and we cannot compete in terms of sponsorship. We cannot compete with Brazil and Mexico and South America, and in the calls that I received they always asked me for something I didn't have. The only team that called me and proposed something to me was Lotus. So if one day I become the best driver in the world, for sure I will remember it."