Max Chilton realized the dream of a lifetime by testing a Formula 1 car for the first time today. The 20-year-old has conducted straightline running for Force India before, but his day in the car in the Abu Dhabi rookie test was his first taste of F1 machinery on a proper circuit.
He ended up sixth fastest after completing 81 laps, setting a best time 3 seconds off pacesetter Jean-Eric Vergne despite a KERS failure in the afternoon costing him a little performance.
"It was a lifetime's dream come true," he said. "To have a full day at a race circuit just after a grand prix was brilliant.
"I think I got on well. The team seemed to be impressed that I got all of the controls right. They are not looking for outright speed on the first day, but I think that I showed I had good speed as well. This morning I was a little bit hesitant because it was a bit alien with all of the controls and the power steering to learn. But I quickly got used to it and this afternoon I was really attacking it, using all of the curbs."
Chilton will sit out tomorrow's running, during which Johnny Cecotto Jr. will have his first taste of F1 machinery. He believes that having time out of the car will allow him to get the best performance out of himself and the car when he returns to the cockpit for the final day of the test on Thursday.
"When you're learning something new, it's always good to step back and just have a look," he said. "Without trying, you go back and do a better job. It's good to have the day off because it gives me a day's rest and the chance to go around the track and see what everybody else is up to.
"On Thursday, it would be perfect to be really happy with the time I do, hopefully on the super soft tires, and impress the team with what I've done. The aim is to come away from the test and have learned as much as possible. Hopefully it will lead on to even better things."