Waldschmidt completes maiden Toyota F1 test
Young Dutch driver Henki Waldschmidt took part in his first official Formula 1 test when he completed a successful two-day run for Panasonic Toyota Racing at the Bahrain International Circuit.
|Henki Waldschmidt gets strapped into the Toyota|
The 20-year-old, who was born in The Hague, is a member of the Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP) and raced in the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2008, having previously progressed through the Formula Renault ranks.
As in previous year's Panasonic Toyota Racing is playing its part in developing TDP drivers and Henki was given two days behind the wheel of a TF108 at the team's penultimate test of 2008 to give him invaluable experience of a Formula 1 car.
Henki completed 128 laps and improved continuously throughout Wednesday and Thursday, finishing with a highly respectable best lap of 1min 33.430secs, within 1.5secs of Jarno Trulli's fastest time in qualifying for the 2008 Bahrain Grand Prix, despite different track conditions and different goals.
He said: "I am very grateful to Panasonic Toyota Racing for giving me this opportunity to test a Formula 1 car for the first time. It has been a fantastic experience and I have learned a lot. The performance of the TF108 is incredible compared to the cars I am used to driving and the experience of handling the power, the brakes and the downforce will be very helpful to me in my career.
"I was very impressed to see how professional the team is and I can understand why they have made so much progress in the last year or so. They gave me a lot of useful information to prepare me for each day and helped me to improve my understanding of the car.
"I was not particularly familiar with the Bahrain circuit so it was a big learning curve on Wednesday but I am very pleased with my performance."
Jarno was also on track in Bahrain this week, gathering more data on the new Bridgestone Potenza slick tires and a low downforce aerodynamic configuration to help the team prepare for the 2009 season.
He also tested the RVX-08 engine with a view to the regulation change which extends engine life next year, while trying out a new gearbox and other mechanical devices looking ahead to the 2009 season.
He enjoyed three trouble-free sessions, completing a total of 258 laps over the three days and setting a fastest time of 1min 32.463s.
Test Team Manager Gerd Pfeiffer said: "It has been a productive test and we have achieved what we set out to. The good weather conditions here have helped us to complete a full program aimed at gathering as much information as possible to help our preparations for 2009; lap times were not our priority. Of course, this was Henki's first full Formula 1 test and he has made a good impression; he has been very professional and has made a lot of progress over the two days."