Sahara Force India driver James Rossiter set the sixth fastest time during last week’s pre-season F1 test at Jerez in Spain, writes James Beckett.
The former British Formula 3 Championship racer had not tested a Grand Prix car since 2008 and was instantly on the pace in a test that saw many of the new 2013 specification F1 cars in action.
Speaking to the Advertiser & Review, Rossiter, who is responsible for the team’s simulator work on the VJM06 car, said: “For all the guys that I work with and the team of vehicle dynamics guys it’s been very important.
“It’s so important to get it right with the tyres early on in the season so we can try and help with the early stage of the upgrades and which direction we need to take the car to exploit its potential.
“It was about running with a sensible amount of fuel with new tyres and then running with a heavy fuel load so I could feel that difference.
“I never got to experience the super-high fuel levels we have at the start of the race when I drove for Honda so I’ve now had a chance to experience that. It’s certainly interesting and very different from what I remember in Formula One.
“There wasn’t too much focus on performance, there was no need to push hard or anything like that. It was all about me getting up to speed and learning as much as I can to take back to correlate with the simulator.”
Rossiter’s times improved throughout his time in the car and he added: “I wasn’t taking any risks as there was no need to do that.
“I think the lap time I did was very good and representative of where we are. If you look at what Paul [di Resta] did it’s not too bad, so I’d say the simulator works reasonably well.
“Obviously physically you’re actually moving, whereas in a simulator you are tricked into believing that you’re moving, but they are becoming very advanced.”
Sahara Force India have yet to announce the name of their second driver for the 2013 season. Jules Bianchi, Narain Karthikeyan, Adrian Sutil and Rossiter are all thought to be in the frame for the race seat. The second F1 pre-season test of 2013 takes place in Barcelona next week.
Meanwhile, following uncertainty surrounding the future of Ross Brawn as the head of the Brackley-based Mercedes Grand Prix team, the manufacturer’s executive director, Toto Wolff, has said that Brawn will continue to lead the team through the 2013 season.
During last week’s opening F1 test of the 2013 season in Spain, where Mercedes ran their new W04 ‘Silver Arrow’ for the first time, Wolff said: “On the pit wall everything will remain the same.
“I think it would be totally wrong for Niki Lauda to get involved on the pit wall and equally for me. It is Ross’s call and Ross’s decision that is the team’s decision.”
Both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took turns driving the new Mercedes at the Jerez circuit.
Rosberg’s first run was interrupted by an electrical fire and Hamilton’s opening run was cut short by an accident caused by a hydraulic problem.
Repairs were carried out to the W04 by the team and further laps were completed.
The squad will be back in Spain next week for the second pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.