Nikita Mazepin says he could feel the quality of the reigning Formula 1 world champions Mercedes from just sitting in the car during his first test as he topped the concluding day of the Spanish test at Circuit de Catalunya.

The Formula 2 driver, who has previously tested in F1 for Racing Point under its former guise Force India, made his official test debut for Mercedes on Wednesday at the second in-season test and set the fastest lap time of the day of 1m 15.775s – a lap time which would have put him second on the grid for last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix albeit using the softest C5 tyre compound.

Mazepin, who has also privately tested and completed simulation work for Mercedes, endured a tricky start to his day with a spin off-track in the morning but responded strongly completing 128 laps across the day.

The Russian driver praised Mercedes and says the team’s quality is clear from just being inside the squad’s operations during the test.

“Today was incredible. Being a part of this team, even just for this day was very special for me. It’s every young driver’s dream to drive a car like this and today mine came true, so I’m really happy,” Mazepin said.

“Importantly it was a successful day on track too, we gathered most of the data we set out to collect, we didn’t encounter any problems and from my side I felt I could deliver consistently throughout the day - which is important for the team.

“In the afternoon we were competitive on the performance runs and the car felt great. Everyone in the team is working so hard and you can feel that when you sit in this car.”

Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows also praised the work completed by Mazepin as it completed its aerodynamic and engine development test programme. Mazepin was called on by Mercedes in order to fulfil its young driver test requirements as two days of in-season testing must be completed by drivers who have contested two F1 races or fewer, with George Russell running for the reigning champions during the Bahrain F1 test.

“It’s been another successful day here in Barcelona and we managed to complete all of the programme we had planned,” Meadows said.

“We spent the first three quarters of the day focused on aerodynamic and Power Unit development testing, before switching to one-lap performance runs, working through the different specifications of the tyre with Nikita. He did a really superb job today, just as we expected he would.”

 

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