Valsecchi has faith in Lotus E21

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Lotus F1 Team test driver Davide Valsecchi believes that the 2013 Lotus car is fast and competitive following his run at the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday.

Valsecchi deputized for Kimi Raikkonen, who came down with food poisoning, in the morning session yesterday before handing the reins back to full time driver Romain Grosjean for the afternoon.

Although he only finished eleventh fastest, Valsecchi was highly impressed by the new car.

“It’s clear that it’s [the E21] a very good racing car. For me to be able to get immediately on the pace means that the car is certainly fast and competitive.”

The 2012 GP2 champion was also highly grateful for the opportunity. The test driver role in Formula One has been criticized in recent years, with Sauber test driver Robin Frijns making his limited opportunities in the role public. However, Valsecchi was enthused by the session yesterday.

“This morning was quite a rush to get everything ready as the call only came late, but the team were fantastic getting the car prepared for me.

“It was a fantastic opportunity; I sat in the seat of a former World Champion so I knew that I’d be fast for sure.”

Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane was also impressed by Valsecchi, and revealed that he would be happy to call on the Italian driver if need be.

“Davide did a great job at short notice and we know we can rely on him if he’s called upon again.”

Lotus will be encouraged by the pace of the E21 as well as that of their test driver. Should Valsecchi’s good showings continue, he could be in the running for a race seat should one become available.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”