Force India reserve driver James Calado has thanked his team for an “amazing” day after getting his first taste of a Formula One car in an official session during the practice for the Italian Grand Prix today.
The British driver, who currently races in GP2, was given the opportunity by the team after they confirmed earlier this week that he would be their reserve driver for the foreseeable future. Calado put in a respectable performance, finishing seventeenth and less than half-a-second off full-time driver Paul di Resta.
“Amazing – that’s the only word I can use to describe the day,” Calado said after the session. “It took a while to get used to the car again, but once I was familiar with everything I was able to drive consistently and set some reasonable lap times.
“The balance felt good and everything ran smoothly during the session. I learned a lot and hopefully got some good data for the team.”
Calado went on to thank the team for giving him the run-out, with Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg both serving in the same role before going on to race for the team.
“I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to Sahara Force India for the opportunity and I’m already looking forward to getting back in the car later in the year.”
In an interview with the BBC, Calado said that he believes his next practice showing will be at Abu Dhabi. Until then, he will return to his duties in GP2 as he vies for the championship with just six rounds remaining.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.