Debutants cautiously optimistic


Mat Coch writes:

Mileage and time in the car seem to be the order of the day for the four drivers making their debuts this weekend. Testing restrictions prevent drivers enjoying the pre-season running they would have once experienced, placing more importance than ever on simulators and practice sessions during a Grand Prix weekend.

"There are a lot of things we have to go over, for example I have to learn the circuit," explains Sauber's Sergio Perez. The Mexican enjoyed success during last season's GP2 championship, however Formula One will provide a whole new challenge.

"I don't know the track, so this is a handicap," he admits. "It's difficult to find the limit on this circuit.

"I certainly wouldn't say it is the easiest (circuit)," agrees Paul di Resta. "If you look at Bahrain it's a bit more forgiving then here. Here there is not much run off."

The slippery Albert Park circuit is a difficult one on which to make your debut, the close confines of the barriers allowing little in the way of errors without severe consequences. It means getting up to speed and pushing the car to the limit becomes a matter of mentality as well as driving ability.

With limited testing more emphasis has been placed on the team's simulators as drivers seek as much time behind the wheel as possible. "I've been in the simulator a few times trying to get the circuit in my mind," admits Perez.

"I've also spent time in the simulator," says Virgin's Jerome D'Ambrosio. "I've also spent the weeks since the last test in Barcelona really consolidating my fitness."

"It was quite tough, quite difficult to adapt myself to a new team, new cars, everything," adds Pastor Maldonado, the physical demands of Formula One much greater than those of the GP2 car he drove to championship success last year.

"I think we have all the potential to be here and to improve race-by-race during the season," he continues. "I am quite confident even though my teammate is so experienced, so quick, so I think we can improve together during the championship."

Maldonado's comments are echoed by his fellow debutants, who look for improvement, consolidation and ultimately competitiveness by season's end. "I'm getting better and better every time I jump into the car, so I'm very confident," claims Perez. "But I know it's going to be very, very difficult."

"I have always dreamed of doing (this) since I was a kid," says Di Resta. "Hopefully the results will show and give me the natural progression to continue on in Formula One."

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Published: 25/03/2011
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