Brendon Hartley admitted it was an 'amazing feeling' to make a return to F1 machinery after testing with Mercedes on the final day of the young driver session at Magny-Cours.
The New Zealander has previously been part of the Red Bull Young Driver programme before being dropped, and has since gone on to carry out simulator work with Mercedes to help with improvements to the W03.
However, the Young Driver test gave him the opportunity to get behind the wheel for the first time as he took over from Sam Bird and he admitted it was great to be back on track.
“It was an amazing feeling to be back driving a Formula One car today, and I would like to thank the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team for giving me this opportunity,” he said. “The track was quite wet this morning so we lost some time but once it had dried out, we were able to get on with the test programme, using mainly the hard tyre. It was a successful day for both me and the team, and we completed the programme, despite the weather.
“I'm happy with my performance and pleased that it only took a couple of runs before I was on the pace as it's been three years since I last drove a Formula One car. I'm very grateful for the experience and really enjoyed working with the team today.”
With the three-day test having given Mercedes the chance to try out a series of new parts, including a revised exhaust system, team boss Ross Brawn said he was pleased with the progress made in France.
“Today sees the conclusion of a successful three day test for the team in Magny-Cours with our young drivers Sam Bird and Brendon Hartley,” he said. “This was an important test, allowing both drivers some important track time in a Formula One car, and enabling us to continue our development programme with the evaluation of our new upgrades.
“Both Sam and Brendon have driven very well, providing good and consistent feedback, and I would like to thank them for their efforts and diligence over the last three days. We now have a wealth of data from the test to study back at the factory over the next few days and in advance of the forthcoming race in Singapore.”