Team Lotus used two rookie drivers for the first day of the final pre-season test, and between them they completed 79 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
Italian Davide Valsecchi was in the car this morning, and the GP2 driver completed 50 laps, finishing the day seventh fastest. He seemed delighted by his efforts and is clearly aiming to impress the team.
“First I want to thank Team Lotus for the opportunity to drive the car today,” said Valsecchi. “It was a great experience and one I want to build on with the team. To begin with it was obviously all new to me – new seat, more power, better brakes, the whole package, but by the end of the morning I was much more confident in the car and had the chance to push.
“By the time the morning session ended I think the team were pretty happy with how I performed so I can’t really ask for more than that. It’s definitely been a good day.”
This afternoon testing duties switched to Brazilian Luiz Razia, who GP2 fans will recognise as Pastor Maldonado‘s Rapax team-mate in 2010. A mechanical problem limited his running to just 29 laps, and he finished the day tenth fastest.
“It was really good to get back into an F1 car and pretty much from the first laps I could feel that this car is a step forward from what I have driven before,” said Razia, who last season was a test driver for Virgin Racing. “Despite the delay this afternoon while the car was being fixed I’m pleased with how I performed.
“I know that with more running my times would have come down but today wasn’t about setting fastest laps – it was about learning how to work with the team to the agreed plan and give feedback that helps the car and the team continue to develop.”
Mike Gascoyne agreed with Razia’s assessment of his potential performance, and thanked both drivers for their efforts today. “A pretty good first day of this fourth test,” said the Lotus Chief Technical Officer, summarising day one of this final pre-season test. “We managed to run through our whole programme with the two drivers and they both did an excellent job.
“Apart from one small spin for Davide at the end of his session neither of them made any mistakes and Luiz performed very well, despite his time in the car being slightly cut short due to a minor mechanical issue. I’m sure that he would have improved even further with more running and after having completed our plans for the day I want to thank both drivers for the work they have done in the car today.”