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Leimer ran 78 laps around Paul Ricard as part of his prize for winning the 2013 GP2 Championship (Credit: Pirelli UK Media)
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GP2 Champ Leimer Tests 2012 Lotus F1 Car at Paul Ricard

The 2013 GP2 Series champion Fabio Leimer has tested a 2012 Lotus F1 Team car at Paul Ricard in France as part of his prize for winning the championship from Pirelli. The Swiss driver completed 78 laps of the 3.8-kilometre configuration of the circuit on Pirelli’s demo tyres.

“Fabio was impressive both in terms of his pace and his feedback,” said Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola. “While our demo tyres are not quite the same as the real Formula One tyres, they are still enough to give a good idea of what it is like to drive at the very top level. We were delighted to offer him this opportunity and the chance to prove once more that graduates from the GP2 Series – especially the champion – are more than ready to face the demands of Formula One.”

Leimer completed 42 laps in the morning and 36 laps in the afternoon running in a Pirelli tyre test simulation, running seven sets of tyres on three different compounds – Soft, Medium and Hard.

It was the first time Leimer had driven an F1 car since the Young Driver Test at Abu Dhabi in 2011 where he spent some time running in a Sauber. The temperature in France was entirely different to that in Abu Dhabi, and the 25-year-old ran on track with temperatures varying between 26 and 32 degrees centigrade during the day.

“It was an absolutely fantastic experience and I really enjoyed myself,” said Leimer. “It was three years ago when I last drove a Formula One car; one thing I did notice today was that as I was getting in the car I felt much more calm and focused, so I found it a lot easier to concentrate on what the car and the tyres were doing. Before, it was my first time in a Formula One car so I was much more nervous.

“This morning it was hard to get a good impression as the track was really bad. It was not so easy to get grip and I had some understeer but really that was all about installation. In the afternoon we made some set-up changes and started to improve. The long runs were really good, particularly on the medium tyre. On the soft tyre I struggled a little bit more. Generally though the tyres were all very consistent and good to drive. A fantastic experience.

“It was a great opportunity and I could certainly see the difference in the various compounds I tested. I’d like to thank Pirelli for this chance that will definitely help me in future. Now I’m just really looking forward to driving a Formula One car again!”