Hairy moment spooked Celis into backing off on F1 GP practice debut

Alfonso Celis Jr has admitted backing off after a hairy moment during his Formula 1 debut for fear of failing to bring his Force India back in one piece

Hairy moment spooked Celis into backing off on F1 GP practice debut

Celis replaced fellow Mexican Sergio Perez in the VJM09 for the opening practice session ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the 19-year-old finishing 21st, five seconds down on pacesetter Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes.

At one stage Celis got out of shape out and visited the gravel out of Turn 3 as he attempted to push, forcing him to think of his responsibilities to the team.

"I was running with the used tyre, pushing a bit," said Celis, who ultimately covered 23 laps during the 90 minutes.

"I could feel the rear [tyre] a bit degraded, and I just had some snap oversteer, but it was controlled.

"That was the determining factor that made me step down a bit.

"It was important for me to complete the session, complete the run plan, with the car in one piece, so it made me think to bring it a step down."

Despite the slow time, with Celis 2.6s adrift of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, he claims he was more than satisfied with his maiden run at a race weekend.

"I would say it went well," added Celis, who drove for Force India in the Pirelli tyre test in early December and for two days in the first pre-season test at Barcelona in February.

"The track was very busy. In comparison to testing it is double the cars, so it's important to be aware of traffic etc.

"It's a lot to play with, a lot more factors for me. We also had a lot of new pieces here, so there were a lot of aero passes at the beginning of the run.

"At the end I could push for a couple of laps. For sure I left some margin. I even improved on the used tyre.

"It's just positive I could help the team. I gathered all the data we needed, and that's the most important part.

"The car is in one piece for it to keep evolving over the weekend, so I would say it was a good first one.

"I just look forward now to keep improving and getting close to my team-mates.

"Towards the end of my free-practice programme hopefully then I will be quite close."

The next of Celis's practice outings will be in Russia when he replaces Nico Hulkenberg.

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