Scuderia Toro Rosso tester Sean Gelael has spoken of the relationship he has developed with the Italian outfit having spent much of 2017 racking-up test and FP1 outings. The Indonesian Formula 2 racer first drove Toro Rosso’s STR12 in the post-race test in Bahrain – his first ever run in a Formula 1 car – and followed that up with testing duties in Budapest and Yas Marina. In additional to his participation in the in-season tests, Gelael has driven four FP1 sessions in Singapore, Malaysia, the United States and Mexico.
The 21-year-old, whose career is supported by his father’s Indonesian Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, has explained how his outings have both been a means for improving the team’s competitive prospects, and as a schooling process for his own development: “In Abu Dhabi [the team] weren’t too competitive this year, so obviously we tried to learn what kind of difference could we make for next year. Besides that I learned a lot about the tyres, how to adapt to them the best way,” he emphasizes.
“You learn a lot of different things, especially when you do 117 laps – for example how to adapt your driving style to the different compounds. I think we have great chemistry together with the team, they trust my feedback as well as my driving. Obviously it’s a good feeling to be acknowledged and to know that my feedback is just as good as the race drivers. That’s the most important thing.”
Gelael’s affiliation with the team may have made him a candidate to fill the vacancy resulting from Carlos Sainz Jr‘s departure to the Renault Sport F1 Team, however, the Indonesian’s difficult GP2/F2 career has not returned adequate results for a superlicense. Gelael recently announced a 2018 deal with the PREMA Racing F2 team that took Charles Leclerc to this year’s F2 crown. He will line-up alongside McLaren-affiliated Dutchman, Nyck de Vries, who has set his sights on an assault on the 2018 title.