Hispania surprised the paddock and fans yesterday by announcing that Sakon Yamamoto would be replacing Bruno Senna for this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
The Japanese driver, who last raced for Super Aguri in 2007, finished Friday 23rd fastest, and was 1.2 seconds off the pace of teammate Karun Chandhok.
Despite this, Yamamoto seemed happy with his day’s efforts: “It was a brilliant day for me being back in Formula 1 since 2007, especially as it is my birthday today,” said the 28-year-old. “It is the first time for me to run on a Friday afternoon after I was running for Hispania Racing, HRT F1 Team in Istanbul in practice session one.
“Today, we could follow our program and everything was going quite well. I tried to understand the differences between the prime and the option tyres because it is the first time for me to drive on the option tyre. But we are well prepared for tomorrow.”
Chandhok also sounded positive after completing 48 laps of the new-look Silverstone circuit during the two 90-minute practice sessions. “It was a very productive day for me today,” said the Indian driver. “We did a lot of work with the suspension to improve the car over the bumps.
“This afternoon especially we made some good progress with the rear end and were able to do a good comparison between the two tyre compounds. Our gap to the other teams is about where we expected coming into the weekend so let's see how tomorrow goes.
“I always enjoy driving around Silverstone and despite the bumps it was fun to drive here in a Formula 1 car for the first time.”
Colin Kolles had praise for Yamamoto after the session, and said that the team were happy with their performance today. “Everything worked well and with the small technical changes we could improve our cars,” said the Hispania team principal. “Both of our drivers, Karun Chandhok and Sakon Yamamoto, could do many laps in the practice sessions.
“Sakon showed a good performance as well even tough not being in a Formula 1 car for many years. It was the first time for him to drive on the option tyres and it was not easy for him to improve his lap times on this tyre. But now he knows how the tyres are working and he is prepared for the next sessions.”
The team report that Bruno Senna, after the second practice session, said that he respected the team’s reasons for replacing him this weekend, thanked them for his support, and is now looking forward to returning at the German Grand Prix.