Thursday November 8th, 2001
Belgian David Saelens was a delighted man after driving a Formula One car for the first time during the recent European Minardi day.
Saelens, who was involved with Minardi's junior team in Formula 3000, tested at Misano, near Rimini, and was delighted with the experience.
"Like any racing driver, the ultimate goal for me is Formula One," said Saelens. "I had been told there might be the chance to try the Formula One car this season, and the opportunity arose here at Misano. It turned out to be everything I had imagined.
"The power, the handling and the braking are just incredible. It was a great experience, and once you have had a taste of it, you cannot help but want more."
Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart was impressed with Saelens and admitted that his performance means he is likely to be involved in the team's extensive winter testing programme. Stoddart said: "David put on a good show for all the European Minardi fans who were present at Misano and turned in a very solid performance.
"He obviously relished the opportunity of getting behind the wheel of the F1 car and was turning quick, consistent laps almost immediately.
"As we have already disclosed, European Minardi F1 will be conducting an extensive pre-season test programme, beginning early in January 2002, and using a number of drivers. David has clearly demonstrated that he is capable of assisting us with this very important work."
Published at 18:09:29 GMT