THE HAGUE, DECEMBER 13th 2008 -- Young Dutch driver Henki Waldschmidt took part in his first official Formula One test when he completed a successful two-day run for the Toyota F1 team at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC). Toyota have been testing at the Sakhir track since Wednesday. Their three-day session ended yesterday.
Waldschmidt, who was born in The Hague, is a member of the Toyota Young Drivers Programme (TDP), and raced in the Formula Three Euro Series this year. The 20-year-old previously progressed through the Formula Renault ranks. As in previous years, Toyota F1 is playing its part in developing TDP drivers, and Waldschmidt was given two days behind the wheel of a TF108 at the team's penultimate test of this year, giving him invaluable experience of an F1 car.
Waldschmidt completed 128 laps and improved continuously throughout Wednesday and Thursday, finishing with a highly respectable best lap of one minute 33.430 seconds, which was within 1.5 seconds of Jarno Trulli's fastest time in qualifying for this year's Bahrain Grand Prix, despite different track conditions and different goals.
HENKI WALDSCHMIDT: "I am very grateful to Toyota for giving me this opportunity to test an F1 car for the first time. It has been a fantastic experience, and I have learned a lot. The performance of the TF108 is incredible, compared to the cars I am used to driving. The experience of handling the power, the brakes and the downforce will be very helpful to me in my career. I was very impressed to see how professional the team is and I can understand why they have made so much progress in the last year or so. They gave me a lot of useful information to prepare me for each day and helped me to improve my understanding of the car. I was not particularly familiar with the Bahrain circuit, so it was a big learning curve on Wednesday, but I am very pleased with my performance."
Jarno was also on track in Bahrain this week, gathering more data on the new Bridgestone Potenza slick tyres and a low downforce aerodynamic configuration to help the team prepare for the 2009 season. He also tested the RVX-08 engine with a view to the regulation change which extends engine life next year, while trying out a new gearbox and other mechanical devices looking ahead to the 2009 season. He enjoyed three trouble-free sessions, completing a total of 258 laps over the three days and setting a fastest time of 1,32.463.
Test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer said: "It has been a productive test and we have achieved what we set out to. The good weather conditions here have helped us to complete a full programme aimed at gathering as much information as possible to help our preparations for 2009. Lap times were not our priority. Of course, this was Henki's first full F1 test, and he has made a good impression; he has been very professional and has made a lot of progress over the two days."