He may have scraped into the reckoning after finishing a close third in the 2009 Italian F3 Championship, but Pablo Sanchez Lopez made the most of the chance to test a Ferrari F1 machine by out-pacing the two men finishing above him in the annual standings.
The third and final day of testing at Jerez de la Frontera saw the Scuderia continue the initiative started in collaboration with ACI-CSAI in 2008 by running the three top drivers from the national F3 series – Italians Daniel Zampieri and Marco Zipoli alongside Mexican Sanchez Lopez – in a current-spec F60. The three drivers completed a total of 122 laps during the day, with Sanchez Lopez getting 39 to 41 for Zipoli and 42 for Zampieri, but the Mexican proved to be the quickest of the trio, with a lap of 1min 21.068secs out-pacing Zampieri by two-tenths and Zipoli by seven as they filled positions eleven through 13 respectively.
Zipoli was first into the car, followed by Zampieri and Sanchez Lopez, with the Mexican benefiting from the best of the day's track conditions.
“At first, it was difficult to deal with the power of this incredible car but, then, in the last few laps, even if I was struggling, it was absolutely fantastic,” Sanchez Lopez reported later, with Zipoli echoing the giant step needed to transition from F3 to F1. “We learned so much, especially how much horsepower still separates us from F1 and it was the best experience that an aspiring driver from this fantastic series could ever hope for,” the Genoa native admitted.
Series champion Zampieri underlined the importance of the advice given by Andrea Bertolini, who was in Jerez in the role of driver coach.
“Andrea followed us every step of the way and his help made this an unforgettable experience," the Roman commented.
“The lads tackled the opportunity given them in a mature way, and this was a more difficult challenge than the one faced by those who drive at Fiorano last year," Ferrari's Luca Baldisseri confirmed, "Here, there were other young drivers on track, all very keen to show their potential, while the track itself is more complicated. I believe that more of this type of event is the way to go for F1.”