Jüri Vips enjoyed his maiden outing for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing during the post-season testing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, with the Estonian already eager for more time in a Formula 1 car.
Vips joined Red Bull’s long-time simulator driver Sébastien Buemi on track at the Yas Marina Circuit, with the twenty-year-old completing one hundred and one laps in the young driver test that concluded the on-track running for 2020.
The Estonian will race in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2021, and after being the reserve driver for Red Bull for a few races towards the end of 2020, he was able to get his first taste of the RB16 on Tuesday.
“It’s just a shame the test ended really – I had a massive smile on my face the whole day!” said Vips after Tuesday’s running. “The car definitely lives up to the expectations.
“I was a little bit worried this morning about how it was going to be physically, especially about the neck, but we got through all of our programme: lots of mileage and I’m just very happy about the experience.
“Within two or three laps I felt confident in the car – it was very well balanced and it has a ridiculous amount of grip! When am I getting back in the car? I don’t know, I need to talk to Helmut [Marko] and Christian [Horner] – but if it was up to me, I’d be driving it every day!”
Buemi drove the RB16 for the first time having only experienced it in the simulator prior to the test, and although he spun into the barriers, he enjoyed being back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.
“I very much enjoyed being back in the car and getting a proper day of running so that was cool,” said Buemi. “It was good to do so many laps and I was happy to be back with the Team trackside.
“Hopefully we can now have a good debrief from today, see what we learned and take it over to the simulator.”
Guillaume Rocquelin, the Head of Race Engineering at Red Bull, said it was important for the reserve drivers to get a taste of current machinery should either of the race drivers be unavailable to compete, so to have Vips and Buemi run in Abu Dhabi and push to the limit was good to see.
“Today was all about bringing our reserve drivers up to speed so that they are familiar with the car’s performance,” said Rocquelin on Tuesday. “After completing a lot of laps, they can give us better feedback when they work on the simulator – and, of course, they’ll be prepared should they have to jump in the car in the future. This is why we work on things like ensuring they know start procedures, how we operate trackside, and what role everyone plays at Grands Prix.
“Seb and Jüri pushed, and found the limits, which is good and what we wanted them to do. Now they both have a better understanding of what our car requires, what it really feels like and today was very useful for us all moving forwards.”