Japanese young gun Ryo Fukuda completed a great first test with Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda today and there's no doubt about it, the team were impressed. The 22 year-old reigning French F3 Champion betrayed only the merest hint of first-day nerves...
Japanese young gun Ryo Fukuda completed a great first test with Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda today and there's no doubt about it, the team were impressed.
The 22 year-old reigning French F3 Champion betrayed only the merest hint of first-day nerves when he climbed into the car on Saturday morning then left the garage for his first run just 10 minutes later. Ryo confessed after his inaugural 5-lap run that he was amazed at the power of the car and the braking. But he was clearly out to impress and continued to gain confidence enough throughout the day to be able to floor the car around the Valencia circuit.
He ended his first day with 62 laps under his belt and a very respectable best lap time of 1.15.419 compared with Michael Schumacher's lead time of 1.12.672. Today, he completed 97 laps and improved his best lap time to 1.14.240.
At the end of today he reflected on a very positive initiation into the team and said he now felt that he was really on the way to achieving his ultimate ambition: "For me the dream is to become a regular driver one day so to be a test driver is the first step towards achieving that dream. It feels very strange to be driving with people that I've only ever watched on TV - it seems unreal."
Ryo has been touted by many as the next big thing to come out of Japan since Takuma Sato but he made it clear that his own career is the only thing he's focusing on right now: "I think it's great what Takuma has achieved but I don't really think about him in terms of my own career. I'm very happy for him though - it's great for the Japanese motorsport fans."
Ryo is also delighted to be working with Honda: "I'm very happy about that. I'm proud to be of Japanese nationality and it's great to be able to work with Honda engineers because sometimes we can speak in Japanese to each other which makes it a little easier for me to communicate."
It's still very early days for Ryo with the team but judging by his testing schedule he's certainly going to have his work cut out this season. That will leave very little time to explore other racing options but he is very aware of his commitments.
"I would like to consider doing a couple of races but right now the testing programme is my priority. I have to speak with the team about what I may be able to do around my test driver role. There are a couple of series that I'd like to try a race in because trying anything for the first time is exciting and it's part of the learning process. We'll see I guess."
Ryo's next test is scheduled for 28th January in Barcelona.