Nabil Jeffri has created history by becoming the youngest person to test an F1 car after completing his straight-line test with the Lotus Racing team.
The 16-year-old Formula BMW Pacific driver took to the wheel of the T127 to conduct aerodynamic testing at Duxford airfield while also helping the team with pit-stop practice ahead of the remaining events on the F1 calendar.
As well as sampling F1 machinery for the first time, Jeffri was also given the opportunity to work alongside Lotus drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Fairuz Fauzy – who were in attendance to provide the youngster with advice.
“I have had an incredible day, one of the best days of my life, and I want to thank Lotus Racing, Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne for giving me the chance to drive their car,” Jeffri said. “I have to admit that the first time I went out it was pretty scary – everyone told me the acceleration would be unbelievable, and the braking would be so much greater than anything I've ever experienced, and it took a while to get used to that, but Heikki and Fairuz gave me some advice on how to settle in to it, and after a while I was more comfortable, and was able to get through the day's plan.
“It's such an honour to have had this opportunity, and it'll be a long time before the excitement wears off, but I'll keep on working hard to one day join Heikki, Fairuz, Jarno and the rest of the F1 grid, and with the support of people like Tony and Lotus Racing, I've got a great chance of doing so.”
Team Principal Tony Fernandes wasn't able to attend the test as he was back in his Malaysian office, but he said he was pleased to have given the youngster the opportunity to sample the car.
“When I first offered Nabil the chance to drive our car he couldn't tell if I was joking or not, but I was very serious about giving a young Malaysian the chance to step up to the big time,” he said. “He's repaid my faith in him and has performed incredibly well, and that's a source of real pride for me as he proves what I've always believed – keep dreaming, work hard to achieve what other people tell you is impossible, and your dreams will come true.
“I suspect Nabil will head back to Malaysia with his head spinning from everything that's happened to him today, but now he can say he's driven an F1 car, and that will set his sights at the very top for the rest of his life. Congratulations Nabil – you're a superstar!”