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Jeffri youngest driver to test a Formula One car

ESPNF1 Staff
September 2, 2010 « Horner says new flexi test did not affect RB6 performance | »
Nabil Jeffri conducted straght-line tests at Duxford © Press Association

Malaysian teenager Nabil Jeffri became the youngest driver to test a Formula One car on Wednesday after a straight-line session with Lotus at Duxford airfield.

The 16-year-old, who drives in the Asian Formula BMW Pacific series, was joined by regular drivers Heikki Kovalainen and fellow Malaysian reserve driver Fairuz Fauzy as he undertook aerodynamic evaluations and practiced pit stops.

"I have had an incredible day, one of the best days of my life," said Jeffri. "I have to admit the first time I went out it was pretty scary. Everyone told me the acceleration would be unbelievable and the braking would be so much greater than anything I've ever experienced, and it took a while to get used to that.

"Heikki and Fairuz gave me some advice on how to settle in to it, and after a while I was more comfortable and was able to get through the day's plan. It's such an honour to have had this opportunity and it'll be a long time before the excitement wears off. I'll keep working hard to one day join Heikki, Fairuz, Jarno [Trulli] and the rest of the F1 grid."

Team boss Tony Fernandes, who runs the AirAsia ASEAN driver development programme of which Jeffri is a part of, added that he was delighted with how the youngster acclimatised.

"When I first offered Nabil the chance to drive our car, he couldn't tell if I was joking or not, but I was very serious about giving a young Malaysian the chance to step up to the big time," said Fernandes. "He's repaid my faith in him and has performed incredibly well, and that's a source of real pride for me. I suspect Nabil will head back to Malaysia with his head spinning from everything that's happened to him today, but now he can say he's driven an F1 car, and that will set his sights at the very top for the rest of his life."

Team regular Kovalainen echoed the opinion of Fernendes, saying that the youngster acquitted himself admirably.

"He did a great job today, he quickly picked up the correct procedures and was working well with the whole team, which is pretty awesome when you think we've got the proper race team here which could have been a bit daunting," added Kovalainen.

Although Jeffri is the youngest driver to test a Formula One car, the youngest driver to take part in a grand prix is current Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari, who made his debut for the team at last year's Hungarian Grand Prix, aged 19 years and 125 days. Jeffri, born in October 1993, turns 17 next month.