As part of the second official Formula One mid-season test, current FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers Lando Norris (Carlin) and Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix) were offered the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Formula One car. The test held at the Hungaroring, not far from Hungary’s capital Budapest, also was contested by several former FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers.
On the second day of testing, Lando Norris, currently second in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship standings and leader in the rookie ranking, was scheduled to drive the McLaren-Honda. This test was one of the prizes for having won the 2016 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. The 17-year-old demonstrated his talent, completed 91 laps in the Hungarian heat and finished second on the time sheets. The only driver who outpaced the Briton was four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel who was just 0.261 seconds faster than the teenager.
“It was a great experience driving a 2017 McLaren-Honda and a fantastic opportunity for me to learn and further develop as a driver,” said Norris. “It was good to drive at a track I’d been to before and it was pleasing to get up to speed with the current McLaren-Honda. I managed to get through all the tests that the team asked me to complete and everything went well. Getting used to the car was a bit of a challenge at first but by the end of the day I felt very comfortable. I got a lot of laps under my belt and I really enjoyed the experience. Big thanks to the team for giving me this opportunity. Hopefully it will be the first of many!”
Russia’s Nikita Mazepin who secured his first FIA F3 European Championship podium last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps was scheduled to test for F1 team Sahara Force India on both days. Overall, the development driver of the Indian team completed exactly 100 laps. On day one he finished sixth on the time sheets, on day two he came ninth.
“It’s been a long year since I tested in Silverstone and I have been looking forward to getting back in the Formula 1 car all this time,” Mazepin said after day one. “It was another great experience and I enjoyed working with the team. I was interested to experience these new cars and so far I am satisfied with the morning. Now I am looking forward to tomorrow afternoon – tonight I will be analysing what I did, see what the team’s plan is and see where I can improve tomorrow.” After day two he concluded: “It’s been a tougher day today as the track temperatures were much higher. Nonetheless, we kept on working away, trying to find the best way to set up the car. We had a big run plan to go through and I think the team managed to get all the information they needed. I felt more comfortable in the car as the day went on and I enjoyed the performance of the VJM10. It’s been great to be back in the car and help the team in this test.”
Apart from Mazepin and Norris, quite a number of former FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers took part in the testing. Charles Leclerc, best rookie in the 2015 FIA Formula 3 European Championship season, tested for Ferrari and proved to be the quickest on day one. George Russell, third in the championship in 2016, finished fourth on the second day of testing, ahead of last year’s FIA F3 European Champion, Lance Stroll. Also Nicholas Latifi, Sean Gelael, Lucas Auer, Santino Ferrucci and Red-Bull F1 regular Max Verstappen who all previously raced in the in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship were involved in the test action on day one. On day two, Toro Rosso F1 regular Daniil Kvyat joined the testing, so a total of 11 drivers, who learnt their trade in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, tested in Hungary.