“A superb car, an amazing track, and loads of mileage…”

05/11/2018 Posted in: Testing

My test with the Renault Sport Formula One Team at Suzuka last week was definitely a highlight of my career – a superb car, an amazing track, and loads of mileage. It was a dream day for a young driver!

This was a Pirelli tyre test, and my second time in a current Formula 1 car after I drove with Renault in the post-Spanish Grand Prix test in May at the Circuit de Catalunya. However, unlike most of my previous tests with Renault, because this was a tyre test, my team were not allowed to try different things on the cars. It really is dedicated to tyre testing, and we’re severely limited by the FIA on what we can do to the cars – otherwise you wouldn’t have an accurate read on how the tyres are performing. You have to submit all the specs of the car and make sure they are kept the same, without trying anything new.

I was fortunate to get perfect conditions. It was a really sunny day and we managed to get through the whole programme. Altogether I did 104 laps, which is almost a double Grand Prix distance, so it was a busy day! Pirelli bring quite a few different types of tyre – different compounds and constructions – and you run them back to back for as long as possible. They don’t even tell us what we’re testing, just so that they can really validate the results. But best of all, those 104 laps were around Suzuka – one of the most iconic tracks in the world.

I spent the whole Japanese Grand Prix weekend before the test with the Renault team and enjoyed taking in the full race atmosphere. It was my first time at Suzuka, and it really exceeded expectations – it’s become my new favourite track! One of the stand out features was the speed you can carry through the high-speed first sector, which in an F1 car really was an incredible feeling.

The team seemed pretty happy with my performance. It’s difficult to compare my lap times against what happened on the race weekend, but we know which parts of the car were detuned and how much time that might have cost me. Pirelli were also happy with my feedback, all in all satisfied with a very productive day. It was great to spend time with them understanding what they wanted to achieve.

As it stands, that’s my last time on a track until the Formula 2 finale in Abu Dhabi in late November, but Renault are keeping me busy. I’ve got a demonstration run in the 2012-spec F1 car in Miami on Saturday, as Miami is a possible future venue for a GP. So even though there’s no racing going on at the moment, I’m getting plenty of time behind the wheel!