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F1's youngest test driver

2010-09-02 07:36
London - Malaysian Nabil Jeffri became F1's youngest test driver at the age of 16 on Wednesday, after being driven to the track by his proud father.

Jaffri, still too young to take a driving test in Britain or drive on the public roads, conducted a day of straight line aerodynamic testing for F1 newcomers Lotus on an airfield runway in Duxford, eastern England.

The Malaysian-owned team's regular race driver Heikki Kovalainen and Malaysian reserve Fairuz Fauzy were also present to advise the teenager.

"I have had an incredible day, one of the best days of my life," said Jaffri, a member of the AirAsia ASEAN driver development programme who competes in the Asian Formula BMW series.

"I have to admit the first time I went out it was pretty scary. Everyone told me the acceleration would be unbelievable and the braking would be so much greater than anything I've ever experienced, and it took a while to get used to that," he added in a team statement.

Kovalainen said he told the youngster to just enjoy the experience and not get stressed about trying to impress.

"He did a great job today, he quickly picked up the correct procedures and was working well with the whole team," said the Finn.

Team principal Tony Fernandes, who also runs the AirAsia airline, said the test was just a first step on the path to the top.

"When I first offered Nabil the chance to drive our car he couldn't tell if I was joking or not," he said. "But I was very serious about giving a young Malaysian the chance to step up to the big time.

"He's repaid my faith in him and has performed incredibly well."

Alex Yoong remains the only Malaysian to have raced in F1, with Minardi between 2001-02 without scoring a point.

The youngest driver to take part in a Grand Prix is Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari, who made his debut for Toro Rosso in Hungary last year aged 19 and 125 days.


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