Honda Young Driver Program
The Honda Young Driver Programme ran GP2 drivers Andi Zuber, Luca Filippi and Mike Conway at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona this week. As part of the team’s commitment to the development of young motorsport talent, each driver had the opportunity to drive the Honda race car for one day as the team took a closer look at their potential to assist with future testing requirements.
Andi Zuber was first up on Tuesday for his first drive in a Formula One car. The 24 year old Austrian completed 77 laps over the course of the day, with the programme focused on acclimatization to the car and controls with a combination of long runs and short qualifying simulations.
Luca Filippi took over the car on Wednesday. Luca, 22, was taking part in his first full F1 test after a short run-out with Minardi in 2005. He spent his early laps getting used to the car, then followed a similar programme to Andi in the afternoon, on a much improved track, completing 72 laps.
Mike Conway, 24, had his opportunity in the car on Thursday. Mike has been part of the Honda Young Driver Programme since March 2007 and previously assisted the team with straight-line aerodynamic testing. After a very cold start to the morning, Mike worked through the planned programme and completed 72 laps of running on a day much interrupted by circuit red lights.
Andi Zuber “It was a completely new experience for me to drive the Honda Formula One car this week and very different to the GP2 car over the last two seasons. The car is so much more advanced in terms of aerodynamics, power and the braking. You could really feel the difference in the quick corners where you are right on the limit. There was a lot to learn about the electronics and the start procedure, and also getting used to power steering which makes the car feel so light. At the end of the day, I was happy with what I achieved and I hope that the team were satisfied with my performance. This has been a great opportunity for me and I would like to thank the Honda team for that.”
Luca Filippi “I had a great day on Wednesday and for sure it was one of the best days of my life. Over the day, I had time to learn the car and the circuit and I could feel the improvements coming by the end of running. The car was quite a challenge to drive, particularly without the traction control, but we made some changes on the car and found a good set-up so I was very happy with that. This was a great opportunity for a manufacturer team to give to young drivers and I am very grateful for that. The team were very professional and put no pressure on which was important, particularly at the beginning of the day. I look forward to the chance to drive again”
Mike Conway “I had a really good day today. I settled into the car quickly and felt comfortable with the seat and the positioning which was good as it enabled us to concentrate on finding time right from the start. I felt that we were able to make progress throughout the day and found some good time when we ran with new tires. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Honda for a great day and I hope there is more to come in the future.”
Ron Meadows, Sporting Director “We have been very impressed with Andi, Luca and Mike this week. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn should be commended, as should their performance on track. It is never easy for a young driver when sharing a test session with established Formula One names but they have coped extremely well with what must be a daunting experience. The engineers report that their feedback is excellent which shows what a good series GP2 is as a proving ground for Formula One. Based on the performance of all three drivers in Barcelona this week, we intend to run Andi, Luca and Mike again at the Jerez test in December to give them a further opportunity in the car and enable us to continue to evaluate their performance and development.”