27 April 2014
de Silvestro: F1 car is just awesome
Simona de Silvestro impresses Sauber on her first day behind the wheel of an F1 car - but the car leaves the bigger mark on her.
Simona de Silvestro admitted that she could sense the potential of a second day behind the wheel of an F1 car after completing her first test with the Sauber team at Fiorano.
The Swiss driver covered 112 laps of Ferrari's private test facility in a two-year old Sauber C31 running without KERS and fitted with special Pirelli tyres. The day was primarily aimed at getting the former IndyCar driver familiar with the specifics of an F1 car and she was able to improve her performance consistently throughout the day.
“Simona did a very solid job today,” test engineer Paul Russell confirmed, “It was immediately clear that she is an experienced driver. It was as good a start in an F1 car as you could hope for, and you couldn't really ask for more.
“In the morning, Simona went out for baseline runs. She drove at a reasonable pace, getting the tyres and the brakes to work and taking it easy finding the limits. She then drove short runs [and], before the lunch break, did a run on new tyres which was at a good performance level.
“In the morning, we achieved even more than we had planned. For Simona, it was really about learning and building the pace [while], in the afternoon, she continued doing shorter runs, which gave us time to look into the data and discuss things in order for her to get a better understanding of the car. We also did some set-up changes [and], at the end of the day, we used a couple of new sets of tyres, which is always interesting for new drivers in order to experience how far they can push.”
For de Silvestro, who swapped a promising IndyCar career for the chance to follow her F1 dream with Sauber, the test was a first opportunity to drive a car on track, following several outings in the team's simulator at Hinwil. Despite the magnitude of the occasion, however, she insisted that she was never over-awed.
“Although it's something very special to drive an F1 car, I was not too nervous in the morning as I was more focused on what my job would be,” she explained, “But, after completing the installation lap, I realised that this was my first lap in an F1 car, and that this was something really special.”
As with the majority of F1 graduates, the youngster found certain aspects of the test more of an eye-opener than others.
“What impressed me most was the downforce of the car and the braking,” she revealed, “When I did my first lap, the brakes were cold but, even then, the deceleration was beyond what I had experienced before. The g-forces are significantly higher compared to what I was used to in IndyCar but, overall, I'm happy with my first day in an F1 car.
“I concentrated mainly on understanding the tyres, finding out how to get the best out of them and, with every outing, I learned more about the behaviour of the car. I can feel now where there is more potential and how I can use it. Physically, I feel quite good, which is definitely a result of my preparation in recent months. I have been training really hard and this paid off. I can't wait to get into the car again tomorrow. The feeling you get driving an F1 car is just awesome!”
de Silvestro will continue her maiden test into a second day today [27 April].
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