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Zlobin in action at Vallelunga for Minardi 03 Sep 2004

Sergey Zlobin (RUS) Minardi PS01 Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain 27 November 2002. World © Batchelor/Sutton

Minardi began a two-day test programme at the Italian circuit of Vallelunga on Thursday, with Russian tester Sergey Zlobin returning to driving duties with the team.

Zlobin last tested with Minardi in November 2002, but Thursday was the Moscow-based driver’s first taste of the current Cosworth-powered PS04B machine. He spent much of the day familiarising himself with the car. In the course of the morning and afternoon sessions, he covered 226 km and registered a creditable fastest lap of 1m 06.850s.

"It is almost two years since I last drove a Minardi F1 car, and to my surprise, I arrived at Vallelunga to find a team that looks younger, rather than older, compared with the last time we worked together,” said Zlobin. “I'm not sure what has changed, but I also found it easier to understand what the engineers were telling me on this occasion and to learn from their comments. For sure, if the situation continues like this, I will be able to get some good results.

“I'm happy with my performance today, even if the weather was a little too hot for my liking. I don't feel physically tired from driving, but the heat is very draining. The next time we test, it should be cooler, which will make life a bit easier."

Gian Carlo Minardi added: "The team is very satisfied with today's test here in Vallelunga. Considering the track is quite technical and includes two chicanes, and that Sergey has not driven a Formula One car in two years, his lap time was very good, and certainly better than we anticipated. This was a good result, and we are pleased with the driver's progress."

Zlobin hands over to Tiago Monteiro on Friday, the Portuguese driver embarking on his first test with the team. Meanwhile, Zlobin is provisionally scheduled to continue his programme with Minardi at Misano's Autodromo Santamonica, from November 24 to 26.