Bertrand Baguette takes a liking for F1
Bertrand Baguette, Formula Renault 3.5 Series 2009 champion, put in a good performance at the Jerez circuit on his first day of testing behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. As part of the Renault F1 Team, the Belgian driver quickly got the feel of the Renault F1 R29, progressing constantly throughout the day and establishing a good working relationship with all the team.
On Tuesday, 1st December, Bertrand Baguette got behind the wheel of an F1 for the first time. Like his predecessors, Robert Kubica, Alx Danielsson, Alvaro Parente and Giedo Van der Garde before him, the 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion was invited by the Renault F1 Team to take part in a day of testing held at the Jerez circuit. From the green light, the Belgian driver was out on track, impatient to get to grips with the Renault F1 R29. Bertrand put together a series of long runs, regularly improving his level of performance without making the slightest error. After 43 laps, the intermediate results were already positive.
"This morning, I especially did not want to make the slightest mistake", comments Bertrand Baguette. "The objective was to get the feel of this F1 while performing the programme that the Renault F1 Team had set up. It was a great thrill to be behind the wheel of this car, that's for sure, but we also did plenty of work. The cornering speed and the braking power are the two points that most impressed me. My mission is first and foremost to properly carry out the complete test programme that we've prepared before going for all-out performance."
Bertrand got back out on track early in the afternoon after a lengthy debriefing session with the Renault F1 Team engineers. "The rapport with the Renault F1 Team is very good; they've made me feel welcome and done everything to help me approach the day confidently. The working methods are broadly the same as in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, except that I'm used to working with one engineer, whereas here there are a lot more! It's a little bit intimidating at first to face them, but we had some constructive - and for me very instructive - discussions."
Bertrand Baguette drove another sixty laps in the afternoon and upped the pace markedly towards the end of the day. With 105 laps to his credit, the Belgian driver finished his first day aboard a Formula 1 car in 9th place.
"We did a lot of work on the car and we made continuous improvements to the set-up", concluded Bertrand. "Once we'd got through to the end of our development programme, as planned we went for a lap time. Unfortunately, when we had the new tyres at the end of the session, we encountered exhaust problems and we weren't able to bring down the lap time as we'd targeted. This has been a very positive experience. I've driven over 100 laps, and physically I feel great. I think I'll carry on with a whole lot more laps in my head tonight! I can't wait to start again."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer with Renault F1 Team, also spoke highly of today's performance put in by the Formula Renault 3.5 Series 2009 Champion: "It was a good day for Bertrand and he quickly got used to the car and the systems. To begin with we spent a bit of time adjusting the set-up to make him more comfortable in the car, but he suffered a bit with understeer throughout the day. However, he was very focussed, sensible and didn't make any mistakes as he steadily improved his lap times. He reacted well to the changes we made to the car and worked well with the engineers by giving good feedback. Overall it has been a positive day for us and of course for Bertrand who had his first experience of driving an F1 car."