Fabio Leimer described becoming the first Swiss driver to driver for Sauber since Neel Jani last tested for the team at Jerez in December 2003 as a special experience.
Leimer ended yesterday's first day of the young driver test in Abu Dhabi fourth fastest, 2.32sec off pacesetter Jean-Eric Vergne's Red Bull. The 22-year-old, who has handed the car over to Esteban Gutierrez for the final two days of the test, felt that he settled in well to the Swiss team.
"It's something very special to be a Swiss driver going to a Swiss team," Leimer said. "They are not all Swiss guys, but there are some people that you can talk to in Swiss-German, which is nice to help me relax.
"On track, it doesn't make a big difference because when you are in the car, you speak English. But it's a good feeling to know that it's a Swiss team. They were very open and I felt really comfortable."
Leimer admitted that he was surprised at how easy it was to adapt to the car on his first day in an F1 car. He found the precision of the Sauber C31 meant that he could attack relatively early in the day.
"It was my first time in an F1 car and I got used to it really quickly," he said. "I thought that it would be much more difficult to drive in the corners, but it's such a smooth car – which I didn't expect, because the GP2 car is so aggressive. It was a really good day and I learned a lot."
He added that the biggest challenge he faced was getting used to operating the various steering-wheel-mounted systems that require regular driver input. However, Leimer was confident that he managed to master these systems rapidly and could concentrate on improving his driving.
"The hardest thing was not the physical side," he said. "The hardest thing was that I had to do so much when I was on the track. In GP2, you don't have to change much, but in F1 you have to use the boost button, the DRS and they ask you to switch various things. That's the toughest thing when you are focused on the track and you have to know what button to use."