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Australians make debut with Minardi 24 Nov 2004

(L to R): Will Power (AUS) and Will Davison (AUS) Formula One Testing, Minardi evaluate new drivers. 22-25 November 2004, Misano, Italy. World © Moy/Sutton

The second day of Minardi's week-long Misano test session had a distinctly Antipodean feel, as young Australian drivers, Will Davison and Will Power, both experiencing Formula One performance for the first time, joined Israeli driver Chanoch Nissany, who was completing a two-day programme with the team.

Once again, the primary objective of the day's activities was to provide the drivers with the chance to acclimatise to Formula One power, although the team's engineers also took the opportunity to evaluate some new aerodynamic components, which may be used in 2005.

Power and Davison, rivals in this year’s British Formula Three championship, both completed 22 laps of the Italian circuit, with Power just edging it in the times with a 1m 11.790s to Davison’s 1m 11.900s.

"It was very, very impressive, like nothing else I've ever driven,” said Power. “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 enthusiastic, commenting: "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. I particularly want to thank Paul Stoddart, the engineers, and the whole Minardi team, all of whom have made me feel extremely welcome. That, in turn, hat has made my job easier. 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."

As the two Australians revelled in their first Formula One experience, Nissany continued with development work, clocking up 50 laps with a best time of 1m 14.000s.

"Today was very different for me in terms of the morning and afternoon sessions,” he reported. “In the morning, the car was in 2004 specification, but in the afternoon, I had the honour to be the first person to drive a Minardi with 2005 aerodynamic package. It is immediately clear that there is much less downforce available, and I believe this cars will be much more difficult to drive and will demand considerable skill from the driver. Overall, I felt things went well today, and I would very much like to have the opportunity to continue my F1 ‘learning curve’ with the team."

Team boss Paul Stoddart summed up Minardi’s day, saying: "All three drivers today put in a solid performance but I was particularly pleased to be able to fulfil a promise made twelve months ago to give two young Australian drivers, Will Power and Will Davison, the opportunity to realise the dream of a lifetime, by driving an F1 car.

“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.

“Chanoch had a difficult job, 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."

On Wednesday at Misano, the emphasis switches to Minardi’s F1 two-seater programme, as Zsolt Baumgartner, Christijan Albers and Nicolas Kiesa spend the day providing high-speed chauffeur services to nearly 50 passengers.