Farfus, Vietoris test BMW Sauber at Valencia

In advance of the Formula BMW World Final, BMW Sauber ran a full-day testing session at Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia today, with Christian Vietoris at the wheel at first, and Augusto Farfus taking over in mid-afternoon. Running on the full 4.005-km F1/MotoGP configuration, both Vietoris and Farfus had their first chance to take to the track in a Formula One car.

Augusto Farfus.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.
Farfus, a long-time front-runner in the European and World Touring Car Championships, switched to BMW for the 2007 with his eye on the WTCC title. He was in the thick of things until the final race weekend in Macau, where he got caught up in a first-race accident, putting end to his championship hopes.

BMW now recognized his efforts with an F1 test, following in the footsteps of fellow BMW touring car aces Alessandro Zanardi, Andy Prialux, Dirk Muller and Jorg Muller.

"I haven't raced a single-seater car for four years - not to mention a Formula 1 car," Farfus explained. "At the beginning, I was obviously trying to become acquainted with the car. As I had very little time to prepare myself, I feel my neck muscles a bit more than usual. Lap by lap the feeling for this returned. It's just amazing how quickly things happen in a Formula 1 cockpit. This requires the highest level of concentration all the time!"

Christian Vietoris.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.
Vietoris, on the other hand, earned his test through his dominat performance in last year's World Finals, also in Valencia. Vietoris, the 2006 German Formula BMW champion, was fastest in every session but one in his Josef Kaufmann Racing-run FB02, and took victory in the main event by 4.6 seconds over his chief championship rival, Mika Maki.

This year, Vietoris moved up to the German F3 championship, again with Josef Kaufmann Racing, and claimed two pole positions and a victory at Sachsenring. Not quite yet at the threshold of Formula One, the test was a memorable experience for the 18-year-old German.

"I have spent many years working towards the chance to drive a Formula 1 car," he explained. "The g-forces, braking effect and speed are simply phenomenal. This car is great fun to drive. It has certainly given me a more accurate impression of the unbelievable power and aerodynamics that are at work in Formula 1. Today's drive has made me even more determined to make it into the elite motor sport class."

The weekend's program now switches over to the Formula BMW World Finals, starting with practice and qualifying sessions tomorrow.