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'It’s a historic moment' – Colapinto on his 'mega' FP1 chance at Silverstone with Williams and representing Argentina

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Franco Colapinto of Argentina and MP Motorsport (12) looks on in the

Franco Colapinto described his chance to become the first Argentine in nearly two decades to drive a Formula 1 car in a race weekend session as a “mega opportunity”.

The 21-year-old will drive for Williams in British Grand Prix first practice and has received the chance as part of his role as a Williams Driver Academy racer. It comes off the back of a superb run of form in feeder series F2 where he has won one race and scored two second places in the last four rounds to sit fifth in the standings.

READ MORE: F2 racer Colapinto to drive Sargeant's Williams during first practice at Silverstone

“It will be a very special moment,” he told F1.com. “For any racing driver, it’s something you are hoping for – to have your first FP1. To get this opportunity and this trust from Williams – they have been so supportive last year – I’m extremely happy, and very proud.

“It’s a mega opportunity. I’m excited. I know it is short, only one hour [of running] but Silverstone is the nicest track to drive an F1 car with all these high-speed corners. I’m really looking forward to it and will try to do a good job.”

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 29: Franco Colapinto of Argentina and MP Motorsport (12) drives on track

Colapinto is currently fifth in the F2 standings

Silverstone is a track where Colapinto has fond memories of having won there in F3 last year and he will be in the simulator at Williams HQ in Grove this week to finetune his preparations before taking over Logan Sargeant’s car for the first session of the weekend.

He’ll be super busy on Friday, kicking off the day with practice in F2. There’s just one hour and 45 minutes before he gets out again, this time in the Williams for FP1, before jumping out and rushing back to the F2 paddock to prepare for qualifying one hour and 35 minutes later.

“It’ll be nice to feel how the car is versus a F2 car straight away,” he says. “It’s going to be a nice challenge – and an amazing opportunity.”

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Colapinto stepped up to F2 this year off the back of an impressive fourth-place finish in F3 last year – and after a slow start, the Argentine has started to find an impressive rhythm.

“The expectation at the start of the year was a bit too high and I was not doing little steps, but I was doing pretty big steps," he explained.

“I was sometimes falling off those steps a bit and I was struggling to do the process I wanted. When I started to do it step by step, I was a bit more precise and a bit more into the details.

“Testing in Barcelona [before the following F2 race in Imola] helped me a lot. I didn’t have any testing in a F2 car [before his F2 debut] so that didn’t help me adapt to the car as it’s very different to F3.

“That Barcelona test helped me to refine things. Since then, I won in Imola and I had my best qualifying since then. I’ve been quite consistent, top five in the last three qualifying [sessions]. It’s looking better.”

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Argentina has produced some incredible F1 drivers, including five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio and 12-time race winner Carlos Reutemann – but an Argentine hasn’t taken part in a Formula 1 race weekend since Gaston Mazzacane did so way back in 2001.

“I would have loved when I was young to have someone from my country to support,” says Colapinto. “I’m happy I have so much support from my country.

“There were loads of Argentinians waiting for me at the entrance to the track in Barcelona. It’s not a pressure, just super nice to have people wanting you to do well and who are happy when you have a good result.

“To receive so much love from your country is a nice thing. It has been such a long time since an Argentine driver drove on a race weekend, and I think they will enjoy it lot. It’s a historic moment.”

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