Mikhail Aleshin takes the plunge in F1

The 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion, Mikhail Aleshin completed his first day of F1 testing with the Renault F1 Team here in Abu Dhabi today, as a reward for winning this season's title. The man from Moscow had a busy programme ahead of him, putting in 58 laps by the end of the day. For him, the main thing was not only to familiarize himself with the car, but also to convince those watching, and members of the Renault F1 Team in particular, of his talent. Adopting an applied and serious approach, this initial experience has proved to be both enriching and decisive for Mikhail Aleshin.

Though Mikhail Aleshin, at just 23 years of age, has already had the chance to get behind the wheel of a Renault F1 once this season, at the Renault F1 Team exhibition given at the French round of the World Series by Renault at Magny-Cours, today was the Muscovite's first day of official testing as part of the F1 Rookies tests here in Abu Dhabi. Like previous Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champions before him, namely Robert Kubica in 2005, then Alx Danielson, Alvaro Parente, Giedo Van der Garde and Bertrand Baguette, the Russian driver has been invited by Renault F1 Team and Renault Sport Technologies to take part in a day of F1 testing.

After the traditional photo session and a detailed briefing, the 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion duly took his place behind the wheel of a Renault F1 R30 at 9am this morning. "The first objective was to familiarize myself with the circuit" admits Mikhail Aleshin. "It is a very fine circuit that you can get to grips with very quickly, but I have to say that the hours I spent on the simulator helped me a lot. I started out the day by doing a series of laps to check that I was properly settled into the car and to familiarize myself with all the procedures. Then, we did several series of five or six laps to try out some different things. I took things step-by-step, the main thing was not to make any errors and to make sure I did what the team was asking me to do."

Making progress all the time, the Russian driver completed forty or so laps in the morning. "Working with a team like the Renault F1 Team is simply fantastic. Once we had found our feet, we calmly went about completing the programme that had been defined. This morning has been really interesting. The technical briefing during the break also helped me a lot."

In the afternoon, Mikhail Aleshin upped the tempo with a lap in 1'42''073. "I am obviously very happy with my day today and I would really like to thank Renault F1 and Renault Sport Technologies for giving me this opportunity. At Magny-Cours it was just for show, here today it's been a completely different matter! This car really performs very well and is a true pleasure to drive. We weren't really able to go all out towards the close of the session, when the track conditions were at their best, so I think we could have set a fastest time, but the objective for the day was not to focus on times too much. The team seems satisfied and that's the main thing. We tried out quite a lot of different things today, particularly in terms of aerodynamics. It is interesting to explain to the engineers what effect the different options have. F1 is an amazing and absorbing world^a My sole objective now is to succeed in becoming a part of that world!"

Renault F1 Team engineer, Alan Permane, was also completely satisfied with the day's work. "Mikhail completed a good day's running for us. We started the day by doing some aero mapping work, which went very well, and he spent most of the morning on the medium tyres as he steadily improved his lap times. In the afternoon he set his quickest time on hard tyres when the track was at its hottest, but he didn't get a chance to run on the soft tyres when the track was cooler so I'm sure there was more lap time to come. Overall we have been impressed with his approach and his pace, so it has been a positive day."

-source: renault-sport