The Sauber F1 team have given Swiss driver Simona de Silvestro her first taste of F1 machinery at the Ferrari test track of Fiorano. The Swiss Miss ran 112 laps around the 2.997km track in a two-year-old Sauber C31 that ran without KERS and with special Pirelli tyres.
She used the day to gain vital mileage as she works towards a possible seat in F1 in the near future. She tried to familiarise herself with how an F1 car works, and her performance improved as the day went on. She will continue her work for a second day at the track tomorrow.
“Although it’s something very special to drive a Formula One car, I was not too nervous in the morning,” said de Silvestro after he first day. “I was more focused on what my job would be. But, after completing the installation lap, I realised that this was my first lap in a Formula One car, and that this was something really special.
“What impressed me most was the downforce of the car and the braking. When I did my first lap the brakes were cold, but even then the deceleration was beyond what I had experienced before. The g-forces are significantly higher compared to what I was used to in IndyCar. Overall, I’m happy with my first day in a Formula One car.
“I concentrated mainly on understanding the tyres and finding out how to get the best out of them. And with every outing I learned more about the behaviour of the car. I can feel now where there is more potential and how I can use it. Physically I feel quite good, which is definitely a result of my preparation in recent months. I have been training really hard and this paid off. I can’t wait to get into the car again tomorrow. The feeling you get driving a Formula One car is just awesome!”
Test engineer Paul Russell said the twenty-five-year-old from Thun in Switzerland acquitted herself well on her first day in the car, and that the progress made was more than the team were expecting.
“In the morning, Simona went out for baseline runs,” said Russell. “She drove at a reasonable pace, getting the tyres and the brakes to work and taking it easy finding the limits. Simona then drove short runs. Before the lunch break she did a run on new tyres, which was at a good performance level. In the morning we achieved even more than we had planned.
“For Simona it was really about learning and building the pace. In the afternoon she continued doing shorter runs, which gave us time to look into the data and discuss things in order for her to get a better understanding of the car. We also did some set-up changes. At the end of the day we used a couple of new sets of tyres, which is always interesting for new drivers in order to experience how far they can push.
“Simona did a very solid job today. It was immediately clear that she is an experienced driver. It was as good a start in a Formula One car as you could hope for, and you couldn’t really ask for more today.”