Just two days after taking part in the last GP2 race of the season in Abu Dhabi, Dani Clos joined up with HRT F1 Team to drive in the Young Driver Test. This was a historic occasion as he became the first Spanish driver ever to drive in a Spanish Formula 1 team. The 23 year old driver from Barcelona covered more than 370 kilometres with the F111 as he completed the test programme without any issues and offering a good performance.
How was your experience back in a Formula 1 car?
DC: It was great to step back into an F1 car; it’s been three years since I drove with Williams. Obviously things have changed a bit in Formula 1 in these three years but that experience still helped me to not start from scratch. Despite that, it did take me a few laps to settle down and start driving comfortably. To have this opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car and do it with a Spanish team is twice as satisfying. Firstly I had to get used to the car quite quickly which wasn’t a problem and then acclimatize to the different compounds. Once we got over this obstacle we could focus on doing a proper job and, overall, I’m very happy with how the test went.
What surprised you most about the car and how does it compare to GP2?
DC: There are many differences between this car and a GP2 car, such as for example, power steering which makes things a little bit easier. But I would say that the toughest aspect to get used to is the different tyre compounds because in GP2 we use one per weekend and here you change from one run to another. The other notable differences are that this car has better braking and more aero. The engine only has 130 more horse power so that isn’t such a huge difference. The feeling going through corners and braking with this is car is incredible.
Are you pleased with your performance in the test?
DC: Yes, for sure. I think that both the team’s work and my work were positive and, as a result, the times were good too. If we compare our times to last weekend’s we were pretty close. I’ve taken a lot of positives out of this test and am very happy with the end product. I also think the team is happy with the performance so I hope to have set a solid base for the future.
Are you ready to take the step into Formula 1?
DC: You never stop learning even once you have made it to Formula 1, so I still have a lot to learn. But I do think I’m prepared to take the step. I’ve got a lot of experience in GP2 and have achieved good results there. But there are many factors that decide whether a driver makes it into F1 or not. It’s not impossible and I would love to be involved at some level, if it’s not as an official driver then as a test driver, whilst also competing in another category. Continuing in GP2 is more than a valid option and I think that I can also achieve great things there.
Having been with HRT on the inside, how do you see next year’s project?
DC: Working with them has been a great experience. The human and technical group they have is good and next year’s project looks very promising. I think they are changing their car, headquarters and a few other things which will make the team more stable and attractive. Without a doubt these changes are for the better. From what I have seen they seem very ambitious and they are there to make it.