Marc Márquez hailed his time in a Formula 1 car as a “great experience” after completing a test with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing at the team’s home venue – the Red Bull Ring, Spielberg.
The four-time MotoGP champion drove the 2012 Red Bull RB8, decked in current Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda colours due to his alignment with the Japanese marque, to promote the upcoming Austrian motorcycle and F1 grands prix.
The RB8 showcar came equipped with hard compound demonstration Pirelli Motorsport tyres and no active KERS system, meaning that Márquez was confined to lapping within both his and the car’s limits.
Despite this, the Spaniard beamed about the opportunity that saw only his second time in a single-seater car – he partook in a Honda publicity day last December at Twin Ring Motegi, where he drove a current Japanese Formula 3 series car for two laps.
“Today, a full smile, all day! It was a great experience,” the 25-year-old told Autosport.
“It was incredible to drive a Formula 1 car, because it’s my first experience with a car at a track – I [haven’t] driven before. I drove a Formula 3 car, but only two laps at Motegi.”
It is understood that Márquez set a best time of a 1 minute 14.9 seconds, but spun on an earlier run that had the potential to be six-tenths quicker. Understandably, the time leaves him far short of Valtteri Bottas‘s record pole lap of a 1:04.251 from last year and also six seconds shy of Felipe Massa‘s 2014 effort. Due to the Austrian Grand Prix hiatus between 2004 and 2013, there is no 2012 time to compare it to.
However, setting the ultimate pace seemed far from Márquez’s mind – he admitted that he was more nervous for this test than a MotoGP race weekend.
“Yesterday I was very, very nervous, this morning too – difficult to sleep, even more than in a race weekend,” he said. “But step by step I just tried to find a way, to enjoy it, and it was really good.”
The current MotoGP championship leader extended his thanks to the mechanics and his mentor, former Grand Prix driver Mark Webber, who took nine wins with Red Bull between 2009 and 2013.
“They tell me [I was] not bad [at the start], but I was so far [away from the pace],” he added. “But then, step by step, I understand the things and around these legends everything is easier.
“It is a day that will always be in my mind.”
“A super-impressive morning” – Webber
Webber – who watched Márquez’s progress alongside Red Bull brand owner Dietrich Mateschitz, the team’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, Honda’s motorsport chief Masashi Yamamoto and non-executive chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport – and three-time F1 world champion – Niki Lauda – said that his first taste of F1 machinery was “impressive”.
“It’s impressive, because obviously Marc is at the top of his game on two wheels,” said Webber. “And to come to drive a Formula 1 car, the way we generate the lap time is just so different.
“We have so much downforce, so much cornering grip, the lateral component, the seating position is unique because the eyeline is different.”
The 41-year-old went on to praise Márquez’s progression throughout the morning.
“A super-impressive morning,” the Australian added.
“He chipped away, we got into the breaking areas, we got into the high-speed corners, and now we’re into this last part which takes a bit longer to get the last bit of lap time out.
“In general it’s been a real honour to be here. He’s driven awesome.”
Marquez handed over responsibility to MotoGP team-mate Dani Pedrosa in the afternoon.