Sportscar ace Jan Charouz made his full F1 weekend debut on the opening day of the Brazilian Grand Prix, filling Vitantonio Liuzzi's seat at HRT for Friday morning's free practice at Interlagos.
The Czech, a member of Renault's F1 roster, had joined the Spanish team for last week's 'Young Driver' test in Abu Dhabi and, having acquitted himself well, was invited to join the line-up at the final round of the 2011 F1 season. Unlike many others to have been given the opportunity with other teams before him, Charouz enjoyed a trouble-free session, completing 37 laps in the F111 - more than any driver out on the tricky Sao Paulo track. Despite team-mate Daniel Ricciardo also being an Interlagos rookie, Charouz was praised for posting a respectable 1min 19.577s effort which, before the Australian got a second session in which to improve, was only a handful of tenths slower than his immediate benchmark.
“It was fantastic, just to be on the track with people like Schumacher, Vettel and Alonso is incredible," the Czech enthused, before going on to admit that the session had been a bit of an eye-opener after his outing at Yas Marina, "It's a bit different to testing because there are a lot more cars on track, so you have to make space for others to not cause traffic."
Charouz was also happy with his performance, even if, like every new driver, he wished for another shot at a faster time.
"I think I did quite a good job as I was pretty close to Daniel, which was the main goal - I don't think five-tenths are too much," he noted, "Straight away, the car felt quite good. It's very easy to drive, but I would've liked to have had a few more tyres because, by the time I learnt the track, the tyres weren't at their best. But it's the same for everyone and I'm happy with my result. The aim was to do as many laps as possible and to get used to the car and the track and we did that.”
Team principal Colin Kolles confirmed that Charouz had done all that was expected of him in the session.
“I am satisfied with the job that the team and the three drivers have done today," he said, "In the morning, Jan took Tonio's car and he was focused and worked well with the team. It was his first real F1 grand prix experience and he lived up to the expectations, doing more laps than anyone else and finishing just six-tenths behind Daniel.”