GP2 Series champion Jolyon Palmer had his first run in a Formula 1 car after taking the wheel of a Sahara Force India in the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Despite losing time with an engine issue that cost the team a few hours of on track, Palmer completed thirty-seven laps and placed fourth fastest, just 0.004s shy of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes in third.
Palmer admitted his delight at being able to drive a Formula 1 car for the first time, and was amazed by the power delivery of the Force India compared to the GP2 Series car that he ran just last weekend at the same circuit.
“I really enjoyed my first experience at the wheel of a Formula One car,” insisted Palmer. “I always had the ambition to drive a Formula One car: it was surreal when I first got out of the pits, but after the first moment I was just focusing on getting the job done for the team and doing my best.
“Despite a few technical issues early on, in the end we managed to get back on track and have a solid hour of running, getting up to speed fairly quickly. What really stood out for me is the power delivery of a Formula One car, compared to what I am used to in GP2: I heard lots about it all year, but to actually experience it first hand, feeling it as I drove was impressive.
“Knowing the track in advance helps only a little as you get to the various corners and drive through them at completely different speeds to what you are used to; but not having to get to know the layout made it possible to just concentrate on our testing programme. I have learnt a lot working with the team, seeing how everyone operates, and I am really happy about today’s experience.”
Looking ahead, Palmer feels Force India would be a good destination for him should he fail to find himself a full-time drive in Formula 1 for 2015, especially with the record of the young drivers the team have run in the past.
“Sahara Force India is a team that gives young drivers good chances and I would love to get a role with them,” said Palmer. “They developed Paul Di Resta into a good racer, created a meaningful FP1 programme for Jules Bianchi and generally do a really good work with their reserve drivers.”