Chris van der Drift impressive in GP2 test at Paul Ricard
Chris van der Drift began his 2008 season's preparation on the High Tech Test Track Paul Ricard in the south of France over the past two days. The 21 year old race driver, now based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, had the opportunity to once again test in Trident Racing's GP2 car. In spite of problems with the gearbox, the runner-up in the 2007 International Formula Master championship managed to achieve significant progress during the test and noted some competitive lap times.
Van der Drift received the chance to get behind the wheel of the 640hp race car for the last two days of an official four day test. However it was not the first time that he had been involved with the Trident Racing team, having had an excellent one day test late in 2006. The GP2 series is considered by many to be the steeping stone to Formula 1, witnessed by the powerful cars and the champions who have originated from the class. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton won the title respectively in 2005 and 2006. Both drivers now race in the Formula 1. Timo Glock won the 2007 championship and is presently contracted to the BMW Formula 1 team.
The first morning's test started well. Van der Drift made himself familiar with the car and gradually improved his lap times. The hope was then to set some top times in the afternoon session, but a faulty gearbox oil pump threw this idea out the window. Due to the long wait to have the repairs made, it meant he lost valuable track time and did not have the opportunity he had hoped for to improve his lap times for the day. The morning of the second test day also began very well with Van der Drift's lap times gradually falling. However after the midday break one of the gearbox sensors was found to be faulty, necessitating a further break for repairs, as the sensor was located between the gearbox and the motor. Eventually the last new set of tyres was fitted and Van der Drift took to the track looking for some quick laps. On the way to much improving his times another gearbox problem arose, this time loosing a number of teeth on third gear, meaning he had to be content with only one flying lap. With an eventual best time of 1:13.451, Van der Drift finished his two day test with satisfaction, knowing that there was more speed to come. Even on his one quick lap, Van der Drift was surprised to see the lap time on his steering wheel, having made a mistake in turn two. He had proved to be the fastest of the four drivers testing for Trident Racing, and had easily achieved better lap times than his temporary team mate over those two days.
Chris van der Drift: "Despite the fact that we had some problems, it was fantastic to be able to test in the GP2 car for Trident Racing. I have been able to make some big steps forward, becoming comfortable with the car and also working with the great people at Trident. I am not lying awake a night worrying that I have not put down the fastest time, because that was simply not the aim. Naturally that would have been nice, but I just wanted to improve each time I went out onto the track and really to learn what I needed to learn. However having said that, I am pleased to be 16th quickest over the 4 test days out of the 62 drivers that took part. And that was over two days against drivers that had driven all four days and many of those had actually raced GP2 this year and last year. I want to thank my loyal sponsors Racing Pool, Valvoline, National Meats Ltd, BMW Ekris and Momo. And of course my manager Gianni Bianchi for making the test possible. The guys at Trident are terrific and I would like to especially thank my engineer Stefano, my data engineer Luigi, and of course the 3 mechanics working on my car. This was the start of the new season and all going well by the time that the GP2 series begins I hope to be near the top of the results."