Robert Wickens said he was pleased with his performance during a day of running with Renault on the opening day of the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi.
The 22-year-old Canadian secured the chance to test the R31 after winning the Renault World Series title and impressed on his day behind the wheel as he posted the third quickest time behind Jean-Eric Vergne and Jules Bianchi.
Wicken's programme included some running on Pirelli's 2012 tyre which allowed him to provide valuable date for the tyre supplier to investigate ahead of next season.
“I'm pleased with what we achieved today,” he said. “I learned so much with everything, and Lotus Renault GP did an amazing job. The car really feels fantastic to drive. It has been fun and I can't thank Lotus Renault GP enough for the opportunity they gave me to drive for the team. I'm glad I was able to drive in a car that put me towards the top of the grid. I was hoping to be in the top three today and to be third is really good. Obviously you can always find ways to improve but I'm sure that will come.
“I was surprised how different the Pirelli Prototype 2012 was compared to the normal 2011 tyre – I did a long run at the end with heavy fuel and I was able to do a very consistent 20 lap run towards the end of the day on the soft tyre, which is a good sign for next year I think. It's the first time I've been able to do consistent, long runs and to really start understanding the tyres. I trained very hard all season, prepared for this young drivers test and I'm very proud of myself. I just wish I could stay a couple more days.”
Technical chief Alan Permane was pleased with Wicken's performance.
“It's been a productive day,” he said. “We had a little bit of a slow start because we had a slight problem with the front suspension, but we quickly got over that and continued with the rest of the programme. The day has run pretty smoothly.
“It was more about mileage for our new parts rather than performance, so we are looking at the reliability and collecting some data on a few changes. Robert drove and worked well with the engineers and he gave us good feedback.”
Wickens, test and reserve driver for Virgin this season, will rejoin his own team for the final day of the test in Thursday while Kevin Korjus is on track for Renault on Wednesday.