Roberto Merhi is feeling excited ahead of his first Formula 1 outing during practice for the Italian Grand Prix tomorrow, but admits that he faces a big challenge to get to grips with the car at the sport’s most demanding circuit.
Monza is the fastest track on the calendar, requiring low downforce and skinny wings. It is something of an anomaly in terms of setup, making it a challenge for all of the teams and rivers.
Merhi, pictured in blue, has been racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series this season, but will replace Kamui Kobayashi for practice on Friday in Italy. Although he is excited, he admits that he faces a big challenge.
“I’m quite excited,” Merhi told journalists at Monza. “The first time is in free practice, and it’s going to be hard but let’s see how it goes.
“Tomorrow is a hard situation. You need to prove that you are ready to race and you need to try to build up your confidence on the car, but you have just one hour and a half in practice and two sets of new tires.
“You need to show that you have consistent lap times, that you can do steps during your free practice session. It’s important to give good feedback to the team so they know how the car is behaving. I think this is a mandatory thing for tomorrow.”
Merhi is thought to be in the frame to replace Kobayashi for the Singapore Grand Prix if he can obtain his FIA superlicense in the meantime. However, the Spaniard is taking things one step at a time.
“I don’t know yet,” he said when asked if he would be racing in Singapore. “At the moment, the idea is to do the free practice one to see how it goes, to see how much I can learn from the car and from everyone.
“And then we will see what is going on and what is the next target. But Singapore is quite a tough place to do a race!”
Merhi will become the fourth driver to race for Caterham in 2014, with Andre Lotterer also replacing Kobayashi for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.