Recently-crowned FIA Formula Two Champion Andy Soucek impressively led the way on the opening day of the F1 young driver test at Jerez, giving his home supporters something to cheer about on a sunny day in southern Spain.
With a strong field of young hopefuls in attendance, the Spaniard leapt to the top of the order early on as he swiftly got to grips with his new mount, and would never drop out of the top four from thereon in. Participating in the test as a prize for his F2 title success, Soucek remained unflappable despite a brief spin – and out of reach of all of his pursuers, winding up just over two tenths of a second clear of his nearest rival.
“It was a dream day,” enthused the 24-year-old. “I could imagine myself near the front. but I never expected to finish at the top of the times. I'm very proud of myself. but I also have to thank Williams for giving me the opportunity to turn in that performance.
“This has been an amazing year for me in terms of motorsport, and I think I deserve a seat in Formula 1 next year. I'm doing everything in my hands to secure a drive, and I think my performance in this test will help big-time.”
“We were happy with how the day went,” added Williams' Director of Engineering Patrick Head, clearly impressed by the Madrid native's talent behind the wheel and professional attitude outside of the car. “Andy did a good job. Despite his young age, he's quite experienced and his information about the car and its characteristics are interesting to us.
“I definitely think Andy has a future in F1, and I hope he gets the opportunity. He has all the right attributes for Formula 1, and his intelligence and driving skill will serve him well.”
“I'm delighted that Andy topped the timesheets on the first day of the Jerez F1 test,” concurred Jonathan Palmer, chief executive of MotorSport Vision which runs the FIA Formula Two Championship. “I was very confident from Andy's dominant F2 championship win that he would do a good job in his Williams F1 test – and he certainly has.
“He has proved he can be competitive in F1, and that is a great endorsement of the competitiveness of F2 and the equality of the F2 cars. I am particularly appreciative of the great opportunity Williams has given both Andy Soucek and F2. Everyone can now see that the championship prize of a Williams F1 test drive is of enormous value.”
An eye-catching second-fastest at the end of the day was DTM front-runner and former F3 Euroseries Champion Paul di Resta, benefitting from a clear run and the much-improved Force India-Ferrari VJM02 despite only running in the afternoon. As he seeks to break into the top flight, the 23-year-old Scot certainly made a potent case for himself under the Spanish sun.