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Waldschmidt completes maiden test for Toyota in Bahrain 12 Dec 2008

Toyota Young Driver Programme member Henki Waldschmidt is strapped in to a TF108 in Bahrain. © Toyota Toyota Young Drivers Programme member Henki Waldschmidt tests a TF108 for the first time. © Toyota Toyota Young Drivers Programme member Henki Waldschmidt discusses with engineers in Bahrain. © Toyota

Young Dutch driver Henki Waldschmidt has enjoyed his first official Formula One test after completing a successful two-day run for Toyota in Bahrain. Waldschmidt who was born in The Hague, is a member of the Toyota Young Drivers Programme (TDP) and raced in the Formula Three Euro Series in 2008, having previously progressed through the Formula Renault ranks.

The 20 year-old completed 128 laps and improved continuously throughout his time on track on Wednesday and Thursday, finishing with a highly respectable best lap of 1m 33.430s, which was within 1.5s of Jarno Trulli's fastest time in qualifying for the 2008 Bahrain Grand Prix.

"I am very grateful to Panasonic Toyota Racing for giving me this opportunity to test a Formula One car for the first time,” said Waldschmidt. “It has been a fantastic experience and I have learned a lot. The performance of the TF108 is incredible compared to the cars I am used to driving and the experience of handling the power, the brakes and the downforce will be very helpful to me in my career.

"I was very impressed to see how professional the team is and I can understand why they have made so much progress in the last year or so. They gave me a lot of useful information to prepare me for each day and helped me to improve my understanding of the car. I was not particularly familiar with the Bahrain circuit so it was a big learning curve on Wednesday but I am very pleased with my performance."

Trulli was also on track in Bahrain this week, gathering more data on Bridgestone’s new slick tyres and the low downforce aerodynamic configuration to help the team prepare for the 2009 season. The Italian also tested the RVX-08 engine with a view to the regulation change which extends engine life next year, while trying out a new gearbox and other mechanical devices looking ahead to the 2009 season.

"It has been a productive test and we have achieved what we set out to,” said test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer. “The good weather conditions here have helped us to complete a full programme aimed at gathering as much information as possible to help our preparations for 2009; lap times were not our priority.

Trulli enjoyed three trouble-free sessions, completing a total of 258 laps over the three days and setting a fastest time of 1m 32.463s.