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Parente overjoyed with debut Formula One test 18 Jan 2008

Alvaro Parente (POR) Renault R27 tests a Formula 1 car for the first time. Alvaro Parente tests for Renault, Jerez, Spain, 17 January 2008. © Renault F1 Alvaro Parente (POR) Renault Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 16 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton
Alvaro Parente (POR) Renault R27 tests a Formula 1 car for the first time. Alvaro Parente tests for Renault, Jerez, Spain, 17 January 2008. © Renault F1 Alvaro Parente (POR) Renault R27 tests a Formula 1 car for the first time. Alvaro Parente tests for Renault, Jerez, Spain, 17 January 2008. © Renault F1

Reigning World Series by Renault champion Alvaro Parente sampled the delights of a Formula One car for the first time on Thursday at Jerez, courtesy of Renault. Every year since 2005 the winner of the championship has been invited to test for the French team and Parente completed 64 laps of the Spanish track in an R27.

Ahead of his maiden run, the young Portuguese driver attended the squad’s UK headquarters in Enstone for a seat fitting before flying out to join the test team on Sunday to watch them in action over this week’s multi-team session.

“The past few days with the ING Renault F1 Team have been the best possible way to understand how a title winning team works,” he said. “Everything was new to me, especially seeing so many people around the car and watching the telemetry! I want to thank everybody in the team, they gave me a fantastic welcome.

“At the wheel, I was most impressed by the speed I could carry through the high-speed sections and the g-forces. I was expecting the braking to be very powerful, and I adapted to this quite quickly. I learned something new on every run, the times improved steadily and I tried to give the engineers good feedback. It was a fantastic day, with positive results in every sense. I hope I can use the experience to my advantage for the next stage of my career.”

With the track all to himself, the former British Formula Three champion spent the morning carrying out several short runs to acclimatise to the car, before getting down to the more serious business of set-up work. The 23 year-old eventually set his fastest time, a 1m 21.721s, towards the end of the day on new tyres.

“All the way through, Alvaro took a very intelligent approach,” commented Christian Silk, Renault's chief test engineer. “He didn't try and set the world alight this morning, but found his feet steadily, improved and set some respectable times during the afternoon. Our main goal was to see how well he adapted to the car, how much he understood and to assess the quality of his feedback. He spent a lot of time talking with the engineers, and I think that we all felt it was an encouraging day.”

Renault will stay in Spain and resume their test programme next week in Valencia, with race drivers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr expected behind the wheel.