Caterham driver Roberto Merhi feels ready to make his Formula 1 debut should the team give him the nod following a successful first outing at Monza today.
The 23-year-old was drafted in as a replacement for Kamui Kobayashi in the first session on Friday, and is thought to be in the frame to take over permanently until the end of the season.
Caterham opted to run him in FP1 so he could get used to the car’s functionality and processes, given that he had never stepped foot in a Formula 1 racer before. For him, it was a great experience.
“Yeah, it was incredible,” he said after the session. “To drive in Formula 1 for the first time is quite amazing, especially on the out lap when I went out and I was full of power, it was so fast. I really enjoyed that.
“For sure I was not trying to go 100% pushing because at the end of the day it was important not to make any mistakes, and also to learn as much as I could from the car.”
Merhi could make his debut at the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, and although he did not confirm that there were any set plans yet, he said that he would be ready to race under the lights if the team wants him to.
“At the moment I’m going to be here on the weekend at Monza looking closely at what Marcus [Ericsson] and Kamui are doing on the weekend, and then let’s see after that what’s going on,” he explained.
“I would feel ready at whatever track, but Singapore is a bit special, but even I think it will not be a problem. It’s a city track like Macau.
“To be honest, the car I thought would be harder to drive, but it’s pretty easy and pretty nice to drive. I would feel ready.”
Merhi’s pace in the session was impressive compared to that of full-time driver Marcus Ericsson, given that it was his first time in the car. He finished ahead of the Swedish rookie, and for the second race in a row, Ericsson is being outclassed by a comparatively inexperienced driver in the Caterham.