Davide Valsecchi admitted he had enjoyed the unexpected opportunity to sample the new Lotus E21 after being called up to drive on the penultimate day of testing in Barcelona.
The GP2 champion, a reserve driver with the Enstone-based squad, spent Saturday morning on track after Kimi Raikkonen was forced to sit out the opening day of his two-day programme having fallen ill.
Valsecchi carried out exhaust and aerodynamic evaluation work before handing the car over to Romain Grosjean in the afternoon, with the 26-year-old saying he was pleased to have been able to get behind the wheel.
“This morning was quite a rush to get everything ready as the call only came late, but the team were fantastic getting the car prepared for me,” he said. “I only completed short runs today so I have a limited impression of the E21, however it's clear that it's a very good racing car. For me to be able to get immediately on the pace means that the car is certainly fast and competitive.
“It was a fantastic opportunity; I sat in the seat of a former World Champion so I knew that I'd be fast for sure.”
Despite the changes to the schedule that were forced upon the team, trackside operations director Alan Permane said he was pleased with how both Valsecchi and Grosjean had performed when called up to work through the amended programme.
“Obviously, our day was rather compromised because of Kimi being ill,” he said. “We changed the car for Davide to gain valuable experience in the morning, then changed it over lunchtime to Romain's settings. Despite the disrupted running, we still completed a Grand Prix distance worth of laps and were able to put valuable miles on our latest rear wing concept as well as evaluating a new front wing. Both look to be a step in the right direction so it's likely we'll use them in Australia. Davide did a great job at short notice and we know we can rely on him if he's called upon again.”