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Valsecchi cautious despite test success

2 March 2012

Davide Valsecchi might have pulled off a whitewash of the top of the daily testing timesheets at Jerez this week, but he was careful not to let it go to his head as the team packed up and moved on to next week's test session at Barcelona.

"It's nice to see I set the quickest time, but it's not the most important thing," said the 25-year-old from Italy. "What'll count is our position in the race and we'll do everything possible to be in front."

"The prime objective was not to chase the stopwatch," the DAMS team insisted in its post-Jerez press release. "Rather it was to allow drivers and engineers to get to know one another and to get used to the team's working methods."

If that's true and the DAMS squad really weren't chasing the times, it makes their achievement at Jerez all the more impressive.

"We used the three days' test at Jerez to put in place the right links between the engineers, drivers and the new DAMS general manager, François Sicard," said the president of DAMS, Jean-Paul Driot. "The result? The fastest time by Davide Valsecchi every day, which is exceptional!"

"The whole team's very happy with the three days and we're delighted with the fastest time, which goes to prove the quality of the effort we've made," agreed Sicard, before he too struck a cautionary note. "We mustn't get carried away as we're only just beginning and far from running in race conditions."

Slightly eclipsed by Valsecchi's time-topping performance was Felipe Nasr's début in a GP2 car. His first day on Tuesday was spent acclimatising to the new hardware and he finished down in 22nd place in both the morning and afternoon sessions, but he improved with every session after than and concluded on a high on Thursday in 11th place with a lap of 1:26.127s.

"I'd like to single out Felipe for his incredibly quick learning curve even though it was a whole new world for him," said Sicard of the 19-year-old Brazilian's improvement through the week.

Driot praised "Felipe Nasr's stunning progress," adding: "I'm sure he doesn't miss the Buzios beach after discovering Andalusia!"

For his own part, the 2011 British Formula Three champion agreed that "It was all new to me: the car, the power, the tyres, the brakes and the circuit. It's a big leap and as the days passed I began to understand the car and tyres better." But by the end he felt he was getting to grips with it all: "I'm happy with the way I've improved," he said.

Now the whole team needs to spend the next few days working over the informaton they've gained this week, in advance of next week's three-day test stint in Barcelona running from Tuesday March 6 to Thursday March 8.

"We discovered interesting avenues of work to explore, found good setups very quickly, and we collected a large amount of useful data," said Sicard.

Nasr was certainly looking forward to getting back in the cockpit next week. "I can't wait to drive in Barcelona," he confirmed. "It's a track I know so I can get to grips with it much quicker.”

As for Valsecchi, he was looking forward to putting his feet up at the weekend and taking a well-earned race. "I'm feeling a little tired at the end of the week as we got through a lot of work," he admitted. "But I'm happy, the car's running really well."

If Valsecchi, Nasr and the team can continue their trajectory next week in the same way the kicked off the year at Jerez, then it will be hard not to let expectations of a second consecutive DAMS drivers' champion in 2012 after last year's success that saw Romain Grosjean elevated back into F1.


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