Despite his previous DTM and sportscar experience, Switzerland's Marcel Fassler took the reins for the national A1 Grand Prix team during the rookie sessions at Taupo, clocking the fourth fastest time after 30 laps.

With the returning Sebastien Buemi unable to participate in the early sessions after replacing the absent Neel Jani, Fassler was charged with finding an initial set-up for the rejuvenated Taupo track, and admitted to enjoying his morning's work.

"In a way, I consider it is my first real time as a rookie," he said, "In Beijing, the conditions were very tricky and the session was cut short by officials, so I didn't get a chance to enjoy it much, as I only managed to get in two runs in between the red flags.

"In contrast, I was expecting a lot from this weekend. I had two good sessions and also demonstrated good, consistent laps. In a way, this session was my real start. I am very pleased because I had not driven in a single-seater since September 2006, and I still needed to adjust to braking conditions. I like the reactions of the A1GP car - but you need to handle it with care."

Buemi took over for the free practice session, completing 37 laps overall, but only clocking the 16th fastest time as he got used to the twist New Zealand circuit.

"We did a lot of work over those 37 laps, and I used part of the session to learn the track, but we should have started right away to try to get a strong time as we started on the new tyres at the beginning of the session," he revealed, "Later on, the track changed constantly and it became difficult to go quicker, but we still have one session tomorrow morning before the qualifying session to improve and fine-tune the car."

 

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