F2 champion Soucek tops F1 test for Williams
Spaniard outpaces strong international rookie field in Jerez
2009 Formula Two champion Andy Soucek set the fastest time for Williams on his Formula One test debut for the team today (Tuesday 1 December) at Jerez in Spain, ahead of a strong field of champions from other major international single seater series.
Soucek, who received the test as his prize for winning the 2009 Formula Two title, topped the time sheets within the first hour of testing and remained in the top four throughout the day.
After an impressive start, the 24-year-old Spaniard recovered from a spin to set an unassailable time of 1m19.158s in the afternoon. Soucek ended the day two tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival, 2006 F3 Euro Series champion and DTM driver Paul di Resta, who tested for Force India.
Soucek outpaced many of the best drivers from leading international single seater series including 2009 British F3 champion Daniel Ricciardo, 2009 F3 Euro Series champion Jules Bianchi and 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 champion Bertrand Baguette.
Andy Soucek said: Today was a dream day; I could imagine myself near the front but I never expected to finish at the top of the times. Im very proud of myself but I also have to thank Williams for giving me the opportunity to turn in that performance.
This has been an amazing year for me in terms of motorsport and I think I deserve a seat in Formula One next year. Im doing everything in my hands to secure a drive and I think my performance in this test will help big time.
Soucek also impressed key personnel at the Williams F1 team with both his skills behind the wheel and his professional attitude.
Williams Director of Engineering Patrick Head added: We were happy with how the day went and Andy did a good job. Despite his young age hes quite experienced and his information about the car and its characteristics are interesting to us.
I definitely think Andy has a future in F1 and I hope he gets the opportunity. He has all the right attributes for Formula One and his intelligence and driving skill will serve him well.
Jonathan Palmer, Chief Executive of MotorSport Vision, which runs the FIA Formula Two Championship, also praised Souceks performance: "Of course I’m delighted that Andy topped the timesheets on the first day of the Jerez F1 test. I was very confident from Andy’s dominant F2 championship win that he would do a good job in his Williams F1 test and he certainly has. He has proved he can be competitive in F1 and that is a great endorsement of the competitiveness of F2 and the equality of the F2 cars.
I am particularly appreciative of the great opportunity Williams has given both Andy Soucek and F2. Everyone can now see that the championship prize of a Williams F1 test drive is of enormous value."
Italian driver Mirko Bortolotti, who finished fourth in this years FIA Formula Two Championship, will test for Toro Rosso at Jerez tomorrow (Wednesday).
1. Andy Soucek Williams, 1m19.158s (2009 F2 champion)
2. Paul Di Resta Force India, + 0.221s (2006 F3 Euro Series Champion, 3rd in DTM 2009)
3. Gary Paffett McLaren, + 0.268s (McLaren test driver, 2nd in DTM 2009)
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull, + 0.376s (2009 British F3 champion)
5. Jules Bianchi Ferrari, + 0.486s (2009 F3 Euro Series champion)
6. Mike Conway Brawn, + 0.762s (Indy Racing League, GP2)
7. Alexander Rossi – Sauber, + 1.069s (Formula Master, 2008 Formula BMW champion)
8. Marcus Ericsson Brawn, + 1.175s (Japanese F3 champion)
9. Bertrand Baguette Renault, + 1.363s (2009 Formula 3.5 champion)
10. JR Hildebrand Force India, +1.379s (2009 Indy Lights champion)