Stefano Coletti had been enjoying a solid first full season in GP2
in 2011 with Trident Racing, with two sprint race wins under his belt (in Turkey and Hungary) in the GP2
main European series, following fourth place in the abbreviated GP2
Asia Series earlier in the year.
The 22-year-old Monaco-born driver was looking forward to finishing off the season in the final two race weekends of the season when a crash in the rain in Spa in August not only put him out of the feature race, but also left him with back injuries that forced him to sit out the rest of the season altogether.
When Coletti - unsighted by water spray in terrible conditions at Spa - ploughed into and over the rear of Mikhail Aleshin's Carlin car, Coletti was left with compression fractures of two vertebrae and the cracking of a third that meant he was to be out of the cockpit for the next 53 days. It was a period that included the GP2
series finale at Monza and the first post-season two-day test at Jerez
"This is the first time - and hopefully the last - that I am forced to miss tests and races for so long," said Coletti, adding that he had been "counting the hours to my comeback."
He added that "I know that this test will be conditioned by the fact that I have been on a restricted work schedule for more than a month, following the complete stop after the crash in Spa," but that he needed to get back to active duty if he was to get a ride in November's GP2
Final exhibition event supporting the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi in November.
Coletti was lucky enough to get to drive the Dams car in Barcelona on Wednesday, which was the car that powered Romain Grosjean to a dominating drivers championship in 2011. And on Thursday, Coletti switched to a run with Scuderia Coloni, the team behind Luca Filippi's scorching late-season run to third place in the drivers championship.
Coletti thanked "all the people that have been close to me in this difficult period of my career" as he took up the chance to "test the two most winning cars of 2011 - this is an honour and an important privilege to me."
The first order of business was making sure Coletti's recovery was far enough along in the eyes of the medical staff. "We observed a period of absolute rest during the three weeks following the incident and then we started physiotherapy, first in the water at the Institute pool and then in the gym" said Doctor Giancarlo Raffermi, the orthopaedist overseeing Coletti's treatment and recuperation at the Monaco Institute of Sports Medicine and Surgery.
"We carefully avoided the athlete's loss of muscle tone and physical strength," Dr Raffermi added. "A complete recovery will need two to three more weeks of work but this test will allow us to check on the progress obtained so far."