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Rio Haryanto is the youngest driver at this week’s Young Driver test session in Abu Dhabi, with the 17-year-old Indonesian ecstatic to have had the opportunity of driving Virgin Racing’s Formula 1 car in the morning.
“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,” he began.
“The team have been very supportive and provided me with everything I needed, making sure I was 100 percent 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 members.
“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 1 driver.”
After Haryanto shared the car with Jérôme d’Ambrosio today, Wednesday will see regular Virgin Racing reserve driver Luiz Razia enjoy a full day behind the wheel.
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