Reigning World Series by Renault champion Bertrand Baguette put in a good performance on his first day of Formula One testing after joining the Renault team at Jerez as part of his prize for lifting the title.
The Belgian quickly got to grips with the Renault F1 R29, progressing constantly throughout the day and establishing a good working relationship with the team. as he followed in the footsteps of predecessors Robert Kubica, Alx Danielsson, Alvaro Parente and Giedo van der Garde.
Right from the green light, Baguette was on track, impatient to get a feel for the car as he put together a series of long runs without making the slightest error. After 43 laps, the intermediate results were already positive.
“I especially did not want to make the slightest mistake in the morning," he commented, “The objective was to get the feel of this F1 while performing the programme that the team had set up. It was a great thrill to be behind the wheel of the car, that's for sure, but we also did plenty of work. My mission is first and foremost to properly carry out the complete test programme that we've prepared before going for all-out performance."
Back on track for the afternoon session after a lengthy debrief with the Renault engineers, Baguette completed another 60 laps and upped his pace markedly towards the end. With 105 laps to his credit, the Belgian finished his first day aboard an F1 car in ninth place overall.
“The rapport with the Renault team is very good - they've made me feel welcome and done everything to help me approach the day confidently," he revealed, "The working methods are broadly the same as in the World Series, except that I'm used to working with one engineer, whereas here there are a lot more! It's a little bit intimidating to face them at first, but we had some constructive and, for me, very instructive discussions.
"The cornering speed and the braking power are the two points that most impressed me [with the car]. We did a lot of work and made continuous improvements to the set-up. Once we'd got through to the end of our development programme, as planned we went for a lap time. Unfortunately, when we had the new tyres at the end of the session, we encountered exhaust problems and weren't able to bring down the lap time as we'd targeted.
"Despite that, this has been a very positive experience. I've driven over 100 laps and, physically, I feel great. I think I'll carry on with a whole lot more laps in my head tonight!”
Chief race engineer Alan Permane also spoke highly of the day's performance, praising Baguette for focusing on the job in hand.