Jerome D'Ambrosio admitted that the Lotus E20 was 'totally different' to anything he had driven in the past after taking part in the first day of testing in Mugello.
The Belgian racer was due to have a full day behind the wheel on Tuesday only for wet conditions to limit him to just 20 dry laps, with the remainder of his runs coming in the wet before the afternoon programme was halted by the conditions.
While that meant he had little time to really see the full potential of the podium-finishing car on what was his first time behind the wheel, former Virgin Racing ace D'Ambrosio admitted it was an impressive machine.
“Although I only completed 40 laps, 20 in the wet and 20 in the dry, I instantly had a great feeling out on track,” he said. “The E20 really is a fantastic car; totally different to anything I've driven before. In the dry especially it was immediately obvious just how good the car is in terms of stability and predictability; it's just a very easy car to drive. The team has been doing this for years with a great history of success, and you can feel that not just in the car, but in the way the whole team operates.
“It's a shame that today's running was so limited. We had a busy programme planned, and while this wasn't completely aborted we were certainly limited in what we could achieve. On a personal level I still learnt a lot today in terms of getting a feel for the car and all the procedures, including practice starts and pit lane routines. Any time in the car is going to benefit me, and I'm pleased the team gave me this chance. At the end of the day the weather is the same for everyone and there's nothing we could have done to change it.”
D'Ambrosio added that it was the right call to end the programme ahead of schedule due to the conditions even though it meant less time for him on track.
“Of course it's disappointing; I was scheduled to do around 100 laps in dry conditions and as a driver you want as much time in the car as you can possibly get,” he said. “Even at lunch I was expecting to go out again as the rain was easing off, but then the downpour came and ultimately it's what's best for the team that's the most important thing, no matter how much you might want to just get out there and drive.
"As I said, we would have gained very little by going out in conditions like that; in a race situation there would definitely have been red flags. It's not just disappointing for me; the team wanted to try out some new things, and unfortunately we couldn't do that. Ultimately, the risks outweighed the benefits, so we made the right decision by staying in the garage.”