Valsecchi to drive for Lotus in first practice

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Davide Valsecchi, Lotus, Barcelona, 2011

Davide Valsecchi will participate in an F1 race weekend for the first time on Friday.

The Italian will drive for Lotus in the first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Valsecchi will be at the wheel of Heikki Kovalainen’s car. He has already driven the T128 in pre-season testing.

Karun Chandhok drove for the team in first practice at Melbourne but crashed on his first lap out of the pits.

Technical director Mike Gascoyne said he expects the Sepang circuit will suit the car better: “The conditions at Sepang should suit us more favourably.

“I think the track temperatures will help us show more of the car’s true pace and as the layout it is quite similar to Barcelona – relatively high aero and a good mix of low and high speed turns – I think we will be able to extract more performance from the car than we were able to in Melbourne.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    30 comments on “Valsecchi to drive for Lotus in first practice”

    1. I still don’t understand the practice of putting test drivers into the cars in Friday Practice. If you replace a rookie driver, then you’re depriving him of track time. If you replace a seasoned driver, then you’re giving him less time to perfect his set-up, and at a circuit like Sepang, a good set-up is both difficult to get and absolutely essential.

      The only time it makes sense to give a test driver track time on Fridays is if you’re grooming him for a race drive at some point. But if you have two establised drivers like Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, then it’s very unlikely that they will be replaced. And if you’re looking to replace an inexperienced driver, then you’re depriving that driver of track time when he needs it the most in order to redeem himself.

      1. Especially since Lotus think they will do well at Sepang. FP1 is a lot to give up for Heikki as like you said less time to perfect setup.

        Will Ricciardo be driving for Toro Rosso in FP1 as well?

        1. Not heard from them yet (or Force India) but it’s only Tuesday.

        2. Apparently Ricciardo will drive in every FP1 session this year. He’ll alternate between Buemi’s and Alguersuari’s cars. The idea was that he’d do ten sessions in each car, but then Bahrain was cancelled. Mind you, rumours persist that Toro Rosso plan to replace Buemi or Alguersuari at the halfway point of the season, so he may just do ten sessions in total and then race full-time for nine Grands Prix.

      2. But if you have two establised drivers like Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, then it’s very unlikely that they will be replaced.

        Well, Trulli’s been in F1 15 seasons now and he may be thinking of hanging up his helmet some time soon. All this whingeing about the tyres doesn’t make him sound particularly enamoured with the sport at the moment.

        1. That’s true enough, but there has to be a better way of working things. If evaluation of a test driver with a view to promoting them to a race seat is the goal, then do a private session in last year’s car. They’re different enough that teams will not be able to use them to test illegally. And if that’s still a concern, then have an FIA inspector present.

          1. Totally agree, Why Why Why do they do this?? Going to be tough enough to break into the mid pack this year yet they find it necessary for a bit of extra sponsorship to handicap there drivers preparations every weekend. Theres no testing during the season so the dumbest idea has to be is replace you’re experienced drivers track time with some rookie that will probably never race for the team!

            1. The problem is that there’s no testing during the season – but the FIA knows that if they bring back testing, it’s just going to string the field out, because whoever tests the most will be the fastest (in general terms). The solution would be to bring back Friday drivers like they did back around 2005, but that would cause costs to skyrocket.

        2. I think Trulli is one of the best drivers, even considering his age.

          1. I’m a fan of Jarno, he’s very fast but not so consistent. Anyway Go Trulli go!!!!!!!!

    2. great! (sarcasm)

      1. In Valsecchi’s defence, he was pretty impressive during the Young Driver Tests at Abu Dhabi. True, he was running for Hispania, but Colin Kolles was quoted as saying that Valsecchi picked up the idiosyncracies of the F110 and was able to extract plenty of speed out of it over the course of an afternoon when certain other drivers (read: Bruno Senna) failed to do so in the space of an entire year. Granted, this may have been exaggerated to justify a dislike of Senna and a desire to get rid of him, but I do recall Valsecchi’s lap times being pretty impressive given the hardware he had to wrestle around Yas Marina.

      2. I think he’s the first and best hope for Italy in bringing a new driver to F1.

    3. You know what comes next, right? First they put a test driver in the car for a Friday practice session. Next they’ll be putting test drivers in the car for a full race weekend to capitalise on their popularity. Especially if Jarno Trulli is contemplating retirement. You heard it here first, folks: Karun Chandhok will race in India, whilst Davide Valsecchi will drive at Monza.

      1. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chandhok actually did race the full weekend in India.

        However, I’m not sure that using multiple test drivers over the year in practice sessions for ‘evaluation purposes’ is necessarily a good idea. They should really just stick to one.

      2. But if Lotus can find some performance before Monza then wouldn’t they want Trulli in the car? It’s pretty much a given that Karun will race in India though.

        1. Trulli is not the only driver they have. They could easily swap Kovalainen for Valsecchi for the sake of “comparing him to Trulli” (and in the process, running two Italians in the Italian Grand Prix), and then swapping Trulli out for Chandhok in India and claim they were doing it because Kovalainen had already sat one race out.

          1. Yes but if like I said, they pick up pace and have chance for points why would they sacrifice Heikki for a rookie that could cost them?

      3. I doubt Valsescchi will be any kind of draw. Chandhok seems a given, because it’s a new race.

        1. If they lose in court to Group Lotus, they’re going to be hurting about it, and they’ll probably do anything for some good publicity. Two Italians racing in the Italian Grand Prix? The idea has merit. Especially if they make Valsecchi out to be Trulli’s heir apparent …

          1. Monza is a near sell-out every year, they don’t need to attract anymore attention and they aren’t going to get it with such a weak hook. Italy turns out for Ferrari and certainly not Trulli.

            1. It’s not a case of attracting attention to the race. It’s a case of attracting attention to themselves. Like I said, if they lose to Group Lotus, they’ll be hurting. They’ll do or say anything for a little extra attetnion to lessen the blow – even if it is six months after the fact.

            2. I’d personally love two Italians in the same team!

    4. best helmet ever.

    5. Can’t help but think Valsecchi will have the upper hand over Chandhok given that he’s getting track time in GP2.

    6. They are afraid that Chandhok may put it on the wall again.Still for a team like Lotus I don’t think there is any necessary to have a test driver when you regular driver are fit to go.

      1. They are afraid that Chandhok may put it on the wall again.

        Nope, Chandhok said that the plan had been for him to do two races, then Valsecchi would do two. Becuse Bahrain was cancelled, Chandhok had his program cut back by one race.

    7. I know I’m mean but I couldn’t stop myself from asking this question: how many more turns than Chandhok will he do? ;)

    8. Lotus isn’t exactly fighting for podium positions, so I think it’s great that they are giving new drivers time in an F1 car.

      It’s good for the future of the sport, but of course with some expense to the team (not just considering set-ups but also if they crash).

    9. If it’s a concern for young drivers coming into the sport, then why not have all the teams fund one basic car (Like Pirelli have with their old Toyota one) and then let young drivers drive around in that. The teams can’t gain information, but the drivers can gain experience.

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