Young Aussies impress Minardi

Australian rising stars Will Power and Will Davison made a big mark with Minardi boss Paul Stoddart when they took the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time at Misano yesterday

Young Aussies impress Minardi

Stoddart reckons the Formula 3 racers have the potential to follow Mark Webber into F1 full-time after they each acclimatised rapidly in relatively short sessions on the Italian track.

The pair each ran just 22 laps in the Minardi PS04, with Power getting down to a time of 1m11.790s and Davison 1m11.900s. The times compare favourably to those of F3000 driver Patrick Friesacher who ran a 1m11.150s laps yesterday during his 42-lap stint.

Stoddart commented: "They both acquitted themselves with distinction, in that they were on the pace quickly and set very competitive times after only a relatively small number of laps. This is hugely significant, when you consider neither of them had ever sat in an F1 car before today. I believe both have a positive future and let's hope at least one of them is able to follow in Mark Webber's footsteps."

Both young Australians enjoyed the experience. "It was very, very impressive," said Power, "like nothing else I've ever driven. You just can't describe the brakes and the power, but ultimately, it's just another car, and you have to get used to it and become physically fit enough to drive race distances in it if you're going to do F1.

"The track proved to be quite easy to learn - it's mostly slow and medium-speed corners, and other than the left-handers going onto the back straight, which are taken 'flat', there are no massively quick corners. Once I'd familiarised myself with the layout, I just found the quicker I went, the more I loved it. It was huge fun."

Davison was equally happy: "That was just an awesome experience - incredible! You can prepare physically as much as you like, but nothing can really prepare you for the experience of driving a Formula One car for the first time. The power is amazing, although you do start to adapt to it quite quickly, but the whole package - the engine, the gears, the brakes - is just perfect. In fact, there is so much grip in the car, and the brakes are so good, that it's difficult to find the limit of the car in a short space of time, but at a test like this, that is exactly what you need to do.

"Personally, I feel pretty happy with the job I did today. I didn't make any mistakes, and each time I went out, I found there was something new to learn. The problem is, now I've had a small taste of F1, I want more, because I definitely felt as though I was capable of doing a good job on the basis of today's experience."

Israeli driver Chanock Nissany drove a second car and completed 50 laps, the best a 1m14.00s. He also tried Minardi's new '05 aero package, which was being run for the first time.

"Chanock had a difficult job," commented Stoddart, "having been selected to test the interim, 2005 specification aerodynamics. He quickly realised the significance of the massive reduction in downforce, and provided the team with some useful feedback on its 2005 aero package."

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