Testing – Red Bull Racing ran their sim driver, Jake Dennis, in Wednesday’s test in Spain.
Red Bull’s young driver programme currently has no leading contender to make the jump to Formula 1, following the promotion of Pierre Gasly to Toro Rosso this year. Done after the departure of Daniil Kvyat from the Red Bull camp, as well as Carlos Sainz going on load to Renault, Red Bull had to look elsewhere for an inexperienced young driver to field in the Barcelona test. This was essential as teams are required to run such a driver for two of the four available in season test days this season.
Turning to their simulator driver Jake Dennis, who races for team partner Aston Martin in Blancpain GT3, the young Briton rolled out of the Barcelona pitlane on Wednesday morning for his first taste of real F1 machinery.
He completed 75 laps of the track over the course of the day, with a best time of 1:20.440 some three and a half seconds off the pace set by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
“My first day in the RB14 went really well.” beamed Dennis afterwards. “Obviously it’s a big step up from what I’m used to in GT racing but I got used to the speed and the grip quite quickly and we managed to get through the whole run plan in the end. The morning session went pretty smoothly and then in the afternoon I managed to get quite a few laps under my belt, which was good.”
“It was nice to change a few things to give me a proper representation of the difference between the simulator and real life. So we have a few things to work on back in Milton Keynes to help Max and Daniel and make it even more realistic for them. But overall, super happy, a big thanks to the team for giving me the opportunity, and hopefully I’ll be back in the RB14 soon!”
Senior engineer Jeff Calam praised the young driver and said he did a great job on his first day: “Today was very much an engineering biased day and we didn’t expect to rack up the kind of mileage we amassed yesterday or to target any kind of meaningful lap time. In the morning we were focused on aero mapping and after that we had quite a long stop over lunch to make some changes to the car.”
“The downtime ended up being a bit longer due to red flags this afternoon but while we lost about an hour and a half it didn’t affect the programme we were running and we got through all the test items on the agenda. It was very useful day for Jake, too, and he was able to get a good feeling for the car and provided us with good feedback throughout. In all I’d say he did a very good job and did everything that we asked of him. No headlines for us today but the work we did and the data gathered will be of great value going forward.”