Rio Haryanto’s test came as result of his impressive results in GP3 this season – the youngest driver at the test, the 17-year-old won the prize for being Manor Racing’s top driver in 2010.
Rio tentatively rolled the VR-01 out of the garage for an installation lap as soon as the circuit opened for running and it wasn’t too long before he was able to fully appreciate the incredible acceleration and braking of a Formula One car. He completed two runs and a total of 21 laps during the session before a gearbox problem brought his running to an early conclusion.
Rio Haryanto: “First of all I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Virgin Racing for the incredible opportunity I have been given. The team have been very supportive and provided me with everything I needed, making sure I was 100% happy with the seat and the pedals and generally just trying to tailor everything to my needs. When I first got into the car I must admit I was very nervous, mainly because there were so many people working around me and watching me. In GP3 we have only two mechanics working on the car, but here there are 15 crew. I was very careful at the start of the installation lap but when I got to the back straight I decided to try to open up the throttle a little more. The acceleration was incredible, as was the braking.
“When I got out of the car my legs were shaking with all the adrenaline. We had some discussion and then I went out for a second time for my first proper run, which was for 10 laps, and I was really able to feel the huge power and massive downforce. Gradually my lap times were falling as I was able to build up more speed and see where I could brake later. After that I was very comfortable with the car but unfortunately we had a gearbox problem which prevented me from doing any more running. I was very impressed with how the mechanics were working so quickly to try to get me back out on track but it wasn’t possible, so I was as disappointed for them as they were for me. Today has been the most incredible experience and I know just how lucky I am to achieve this so early in my career. It has made me even more focused and determined to work hard and reach my goal of being a Formula One driver.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “We were able to successfully complete a busy test programme today, and both our young drivers did an excellent job. There was enormous pressure on Rio on his F1 debut but he coped with it admirably and was just getting up to speed when unfortunately a gearbox problem curtailed his morning’s running.”