• Young Driver Test - Day 1

Who said what after day one of the Young Driver Test

ESPNF1 Staff
November 15, 2011

Read what the drivers and teams had to say after day one of the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi

Jean-Eric Vergne topped the times on day one © Getty Images


Jules Bianchi - 2nd "It's great to be back at the wheel of a Ferrari on a real track. I've already driven this car for some aerodynamic testing, but doing it at a real test is a whole different story. Now, I am looking forward to a further two days of testing and we hope to carry on as we have started, with a lot of kilometres completed and trouble free running."

Force India

Max Chilton - 6th "I had been looking forward to this moment all my life and it definitely exceeded my expectations. The performance of the car is just amazing, especially the downforce and traction, which are mind-blowing. The design of these cars is incredible and it's left me wanting much more. It's scary how quick you can go through the high-speed corners, but the car is really well balanced and it feels very calm. The morning session flew by really quickly while I was getting used to the car and the systems, but in the afternoon things settled down and we managed to do some good testing. Working with such a big crew was also a new experience for me and it makes life so easy because there's a person for every job and you can change things really quickly. I want to say thanks to the guys for a great day and I can't wait to jump back in the car on Thursday."

Oliver Knighton, race support and strategy engineer "A positive first day of testing and I'm very pleased with the way Max integrated himself with the team. There were no mistakes, he was very consistent and he quickly got the hang of the control systems. The morning was spent acclimatising Max to the car and we also ran several test sensors to gather some more data with a view to Brazil next week and for 2012. In the afternoon we ran through a 2012 tyre programme, which has given us some interesting information for the rest of the week. We had a KERS issue in the afternoon, which took the edge off Max's final lap time, but it was still a very good day."


Dani Clos - 12th "I'm very happy with how the test went today. The first thing I had to do was adapt to the car as it's been three years since I last drove a Formula 1 car and the leap from GP2 is quite notable. In the morning we carried out various aero tests and I think we extracted a lot of information that will be useful for the team. We also tested the three compound tyres which helped me to see the different performance and behavior of each one in order to adapt my style to the conditions. In the afternoon we carried out some different tests with the rear end and also with the different tyres to try and extract as much data as possible. The planning was good as was the understanding with the team. We could reach a good level of performance with the car and I think that the team was satisfied with me both on and off the track and I'm confident that we have set some solid bases for the future. It has been a great experience, not only driving an F1 car but doing it for a Spanish team is something fantastic".

Xavier Marcos, race engineer "The planning for today's testing was quite extensive so we started to work early on. In the morning, the first thing was for the driver to get comfortable and he only took a couple of stints to do so. Then we started with aero adjustments and tyre testing and focused on improving the car's traction in the afternoon. We always did short stints and tested out various aspects which gave us a lot of data which can be put in to use for next year's car. Communication with the driver was fluid and, although we still have to go through the data, the work we have done has been positive."


Rodolfo Gonzalez - 10th "We did a few runs in the morning so I could get used to the car which I found very useful and it really helped to improve my style of driving. We ran some aerodynamic tests which took half of the morning, with many small adjustments and set-up changes, and then ran tyre tests on the 2012 Pirelli tyres. I'm very happy with the car, and the team have been absolutely fantastic and given me a lot of help today.

"I drove the T127 last year which is this car's predecessor and I can really see the difference and improvements in the T128 and across the whole team. Obviously the Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox play a big role in the change of the car, but overall it feels as though it has more downforce and is smoother to drive. The rear end is also more stable which gives me the confidence to push into the corners and to get on the power early on the exits.

"It's my dream to drive in Formula One so I'm really very thankful for this opportunity. I think I've showed I have potential with the lap times I did, and am pleased with my times overall. I've proved I can do the job and have really enjoyed this experience in the car and learned a lot for my future."

Jody Egginton, chief engineer "It was a good day today for Rodolfo and the team. We completed the full run plan which is excellent for a young driver who was last in an F1 car a year ago. This morning we focused on getting the driver used to the car and reacquainted with the circuit and then ran an aero programme, which all went to plan. In the afternoon we ran a tyre programme, testing the 2012 Pirelli tyres with all the other teams. For the last run of the day we put the soft tyres on and gave Rodolfo the chance to measure his progress on track and put in some final quick lap times.

"He performed very well all day and did not put a foot wrong. His lap times came down throughout the day and I think he is pleased with what he has achieved today. He seems very happy with the car and gave good feedback throughout all his runs which is also reflected in his performance.

"The next couple of days will be a similar run plan, spending time with the drivers to get them used to the car and that programme will stay constant throughout the three days. We will also be taking a look at some new dampers and conduct more tests for Pirelli, including some longer runs which have been requested by them. There will be a number of other background items that we will run, but the main thing is getting the drivers used to the car and getting clear and valuable feedback from them."


Sam Bird - 9th "We did some good work today as the team began on-track preparations for the 2012 season. It's fantastic to be behind the wheel of a Formula One car again, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there. I'm looking forward to the next two days and making a contribution to the team's work for 2012. Many thanks to Mercedes GP Petronas for giving me this opportunity."

Red Bull

Jean-Eric Vergne - 1st "That was a fantastic day for me. Driving the World Championship-winning car is just great and I liked every lap I did out there. Knowing there are two more days still to do, just makes me smile more. It's a great opportunity from Red Bull Racing; I'm trying to learn as much as possible and get as much as possible out of it."


Robert Wickens - 3rd "I'm pleased with what we achieved today. I learned so much with everything, and Lotus Renault GP did an amazing job. The car really feels fantastic to drive. It has been fun and I can't thank Lotus Renault GP enough for the opportunity they gave me to drive for the team. I'm glad I was able to drive in a car that put me towards the top of the grid. I was hoping to be in the top three today and to be third is really good. Obviously you can always find ways to improve but I'm sure that will come. I was surprised how different the Pirelli Prototype 2012 was compared to the normal 2011 tyre - I did a long run at the end with heavy fuel and I was able to do a very consistent 20 lap run towards the end of the day on the soft tyre, which is a good sign for next year I think. It's the first time I've been able to do consistent, long runs and to really start understanding the tyres. I trained very hard all season, prepared for this young drivers test and I'm very proud of myself. I just wish I could stay a couple more days."

Alan Permane, trackside operations director "It's been a productive day. We had a little bit of a slow start because we had a slight problem with the front suspension, but we quickly got over that and continued with the rest of the programme. The day has run pretty smoothly. It was more about mileage for our new parts rather than performance, so we are looking at the reliability and collecting some data on a few changes. Robert drove and worked well with the Engineers and he gave us good feedback."


Fabio Leimer - 5th "To me it was good day. I was able to improve from the morning to the afternoon, and I learnt a lot for my future. I wasn't only impressed by the power of the car, as actually I didn't expect it to be so nice to drive. It is so stable and smooth when riding the kerbs compared to a GP2 car. I was a bit worried about my neck before the test, but this wasn't an issue. What I could feel in the end was that the concentration needed during the entire day was quite intense. Obviously I had to learn a lot about procedures and switches. All in all, I'm happy with what the team and I have done today - it was a great day, full of new experiences."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, head of track engineering "We covered a good mileage today and completed the programme with Fabio as planned. We had no major problems except the radio communication didn't always work as it should have, which sometimes made it a bit difficult for Fabio. The morning session was about him getting familiar with the car and doing some aero testing. Later we did some set-up and evaluation work. Fabio had four sets of soft and one set of super soft tyres available. He handled the programme well, gave good feedback and left a good impression with the team. We wish him a great 2012 GP2 season!"

Toro Rosso

Stefano Coletti - 11th "This has been a very exciting day for me, as I finally got to drive a Formula 1 car for the first time. I found it an amazing experience, from the speed, the huge amount of downforce and the way the engine power pushes you along. Nothing I have driven so far in my career has come close to the feeling I got driving a Formula 1 car. At first, I found it hard to adapt to the feel of the power steering through the wheel, especially in the high speed corners, but once I got used to it, I could start to enjoy the experience even more. It was interesting testing the new tyres and it meant I was fortunate to run with several new sets, which is not normally the case."

Laurent Mekies, chief engineer "We had a very busy morning, in which we concentrated on acquiring aero measurement data, trying various ideas that might be useful for next year's car. In the afternoon, we carried out a very comprehensive evaluation of the tyres Pirelli plans to use for next year. Stefano did a good job of trying the different specifications and comparing them to the current baseline we have from this year's rubber. Overall, it was a good day's work and Stefano tackled the task in a serious manner, delivering us with a trouble free performance that meant we completed plenty of laps, which is exactly what we wanted with a view to next year."


Adrian Quaife-Hobbs - 14th "I have to start by saying a very big 'thank you' to Marussia Virgin Racing for this fantastic opportunity today. It's been a great experience and I've learned a lot. This morning I began with some CSL (constant speed limiter) runs on the straights so the team could conduct some aero measurement work and then I got into the programme properly. I ran two sets of new tyres and just began chipping away as I learned more about the car and how it reacts. Overall I'm pleased with the day and it's been a huge experience for me."

Charles Pic - 13th "Today I had my first run in an F1 car, so it was a very special day but with a lot of new things to learn. The high speed corners and braking were things I had to adjust to, but I felt my acclimatisation went well. I'm very happy with this first step. At the end, we decided that some changes we need to make would take some time, so it was better to wait until tomorrow and save a set of tyres. Wednesday will be a big day for me as there is a plan to do a lot of tyre testing, so it is an opportunity I am really looking forward to as I will be able to learn all the types of tyre and see how they react. I am really enjoying working with the team. They have been very welcoming and helpful, so I am happy with my first day of testing."

John Booth, team principal "An interesting day throughout the pitlane with a lot of new talent running. Both Adrian and Charles followed a very similar programme, which was designed to ease them into circuit running in an F1 car. We're very happy with how both of them have performed today. Both used the Soft Pirelli tyre, with Adrian perhaps slightly disadvantaged by the track temperature and Charles by only using one new set. We specifically chose to use the same tyre compounds as used by the race drivers last weekend to give the drivers a better reference, rather than using the Supersoft compound which has clearly been shown to be the quicker tyre over one lap today. All in all, a good job from both drivers."


Valtteri Bottas - 7th "I really enjoyed my first time driving the car on a proper track today. It didn't take too long to get used to the car but there were still a few new things for me. There is much more downforce and power than the cars I am used to driving, but I really liked it and I think the day went well. It is physically very demanding, but I've been doing a lot of training for this and although it is hard in these hot conditions, I could still focus 100% on the driving side. I was able to help the team make some progress with some interesting tests for next year. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back in the car tomorrow as I have more to learn and I know I can do better."

Tom McCullough, race engineer "Valtteri had his first day properly driving the car after previously doing straightline testing with the team. He got straight into it and did a really good job, enabling us to get through quite a long test programme and get all the data we needed. It was a really good job from his side with the consistency and good technical feedback. We lost a bit of time over lunch with a gearbox issue which the team are currently investigating, but overall it was a very productive day evaluating parts for next year's car."