Kimi bed-ridden, Romain in mid-air… step forward Davide Valsecchi! With his E21 debut now in the bag, we spoke to man with the biggest smile in the paddock (for once not by the name of Grosjean) as he gave a uniquely flamboyant view on the day’s events…
When did you find out you would be taking the wheel today?
Literally moments before the session started; about 08:45 I think! Obviously it’s not ideal for Kimi but it was a nice surprise for the team to call on me. Luckily I was already here at the track; I try to follow the same daily procedures as the race drivers to make sure I’m ready for anything. The only small issue was that most of my gear is already on the way to Australia – the seat, race suit, shoes, pretty much everything – so I was running with Kimi’s kit! Not the underwear though… I left that alone…
How was your first taste of the E21??
It was fantastic. After the weather here over the last few days today’s conditions were perfect so I was very lucky with that, and if you don’t have your own kit then who better to borrow from than a former World Champion? The team did a fantastic job to get me comfortable in the car and up to speed very quickly. We did a few short runs and tested some new parts, which is all very useful experience for me. Although I didn’t really have too much time to compare the E21 with the E20 I drove in Abu Dhabi last year, it’s clear that this new car is very competitive. For me to jump in and straight away be putting in times quite close to some of the others – even though the setup is not designed for me – is a very positive sign for the team. Just think what Lotus F1 Team and Mr. Valsecchi could do with a bit more practice eh?
Do you feel your experience with the team – especially after a day like today – is edging you closer to a race seat in the future?
Even after a brief run this morning. I must say I feel quite confident. In just a few laps I’ve proven that I can mix it with the group and I think that shows I can fight for place on the grid. The more time I spend with the team, the more experience I have in what it takes to compete with the best drivers in the world, and I’m enjoying it already. Being third driver with a top team like this is the best position to be in for my career; it gives you the chance to improve in every area and this is essential as I don’t want to race in the bottom half of the field… I always want to win!
I had a few calls at the end of last year about possibly taking a race seat, but the situation today in this sport makes money very important. I am not a rich man; I drive a Fiat Punto… it’s red… and I want to earn my place through proving I have what it takes as a driver. I think to achieve this dream, this is the best place to be and I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone at Enstone for giving me this chance. If I am called on again, I know I will be ready and it’s up to me to show what I can do in the limited track time I have. Let’s see what the future holds…
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The final day of our pre-season preparations kicks off at 09:00 local time tomorrow morning from the Circuit de Catalunya. Stay tuned to our Official Website, Twitter feed, Facebook profile and Google+ page for live session updates and all the latest paddock news.