Germany's latest 'star of tomorrow', Christian Vietoris, made his A1 Grand Prix debut on the twists and turns of Taupo Motorsport Park on Friday but, while he impressed those in the David Sears-run team, no-one had more of an eye-opening than the youngster himself.

The 17-year old, who won the Formula BMW World Finals at the end of 2006, posted the seventh and sixth fastest times in the two rookie-only practice sessions in New Zealand, belying the step up in power between his regular mount and the A1GP machine.

"I'm well impressed," he grinned after his first laps around the Taupo circuit, "The change between 140 and 520hp is enormous. The A1 Grand Prix car is also physically very demanding because the muscles are put to work a great deal more - the steering in particular requires much more effort than a smaller formula race car, but the shifting gear with the steering wheel mounted paddles is fantastic."

With his team-mate prevented from running in the first two sessions of the weekend, Vietoris did a valuable job for the German team, helping to determine the gear ratios best suited to the 3.5km circuit. In the process, the newcomer posted a best time of 1min 16.712secs to put himself ahead of drivers with greater A1GP experience.

"Christian did an excellent job," confirmed regular pilot, and current championship leader, Nico Hulkenberg, himself only 19 years of age.

Hulkenberg was back behind the wheel for second practice, keeping up Germany's momentum in fifth spot after lapping in 1min 15.407secs to lie only 0.159secs behind pacesetter Tomas Enge.

"After completing an F3 test [since the last A1GP round], it took a little time to find my feet again," he explained, "It was recommended that I left-foot brake in the F3 car, and I also wanted to use this technique in the A1 GP series, but it didn't work quite as I'd expected, so I went back to braking with my right foot. The 'old' feeling soon returned."

 

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