Nikita Mazepin expressed his happiness over an “incredible” Formula 1 testing debut with Mercedes AMG Motorsport at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Wednesday.
Mazepin set the fastest time on the second and final day of the post-Spanish Grand Prix test, 1.3 seconds ahead of second-placed man Alexander Albon, in his first outing for the reigning world champions.
The former Force India F1 Team test driver’s best time of a 1:15.775 was just 0.264s shy of regular driver Valtteri Bottas‘s table-topping effort on the same C1 compound tyres on Tuesday.
“Today was incredible,” said Formula 2 rookie Mazepin.
“Being a part of this team, even just for this day was very special for me.
“It’s every young driver’s dream to drive a car like this and today mine came true, so I’m really happy.”
Wednesday’s running marked Mazepin’s first appearance in a 2019-spec F1 car, but the Russian is completing a private test programme with Mercedes in its ’17 car throughout the year – guided by current Mercedes reserve Esteban Ocon, Mazepin’s former Force India colleague.
Prior to his Mercedes move, the 20-year-old had completed eight days of official testing for Force India between ’16 and ’18 – but left the team after the completed takeover and subsequent rebranding to the Racing Point F1 Team by a Lawrence Stroll-led consortium.
Mercedes focused its afternoon attentions on performance runs, with Mazepin reporting no issues for driver and car through the session – despite having his running late in the morning session cut short by a spin at Turn 11 that brought out the red flags.
“Importantly it was a successful day on track too, we gathered most of the data we set out to collect,” he added.
“We didn’t encounter any problems and from my side I felt I could deliver consistently throughout the day – which is important for the team.
“In the afternoon we were competitive on the performance runs and the car felt great.
“Everyone in the team is working so hard and you can feel that when you sit in this car.”