Jan Charouz completes Renault F1 R29 shakedown
Czech racing driver Jan Charouz drove the Renault F1 R29 single-seater for the first time in his career during a shakedown at the Silverstone Circuit in Great Britain on Thursday March 18th. Already he has established his reputation
as a top-line sports car driver having won the 2009 Le Mans Series, and has now become a Renault F1 Team Reserve Driver. As the third Czech racing driver in history, Jan Charouz has started his journey to Formula 1.
With construction work ongoing at the Silverstone Circuit, Thursday's Renault F1 R29 shakedown took place on the National version of the circuit. Jan Charouz drove last year's Renault F1 Team car and completed twenty laps. While the original shakedown planned for the end of February had to be postponed owing to snow at Silverstone, on Thursday March 18th track conditions were ideal.
Jan Charouz, Renault F1 Team Reserve Driver said: "It was an amazing experience. Overall I ran twenty laps. In the first ten laps I was getting used to the new driving style. In the following five laps I found a lot more confidence, and in the last five laps I felt much more comfortable in the car.
To shake down the Renault F1 R29 was a great feeling. Actually, before the shakedown began, I hadn't been nervous at all, but then a few people called me asking what would be happening, and congratulating me, and then -- to be honest -- I got a little bit nervous. However, when I started driving I immediately calmed down and focused only on the driving.
If I compare the R29 to other single-seaters I have driven, the GP2 single-seater is the most similar. But in fact, you can't compare F1 to anything. Formula 1 is much faster, it requires faster reactions, and has more forces in the corners. It's a car from another world! "
Eric Boullier, Team Principal of the Renault F1 Team, said: "For any driver the chance to drive an F1 car for the first time is an important career milestone and a special moment. Today Jan had his chance and his attitude and feedback were very good. This was simply a shakedown of last year's cars, so he only covered 20 laps, but he had a good feel for the car. Having some miles under his belt gives Jan some valuable experience and will inspire him to continue working hard in his role as one of our reserve drivers."
Antonin Charouz, Jan Charouz's manager said: "Today was a great experience for Jan and I appreciate I am involved in something special to have a driver in the Renault F1 Team Driver Programme. Obviously I know it doesn't mean that Jan will certainly drive in Formula 1, but it is an amazing experience and motivation for him to work hard and do the best he can to enter the Formula 1 environment."
For the past three years, 22-year-old Charouz has focused his efforts on sportscar racing in the LMP1 class of the Le Mans Series and 24 Hours Le Mans. After a three-year campaign he was crowned the 2009 Le Mans Series champion and finished fourth in the 24 Hours Le Mans with manufacturer Aston Martin Racing team. Although he was one of the youngest drivers in the LMP1 entry during his sportscar campaign (in 2007 24 Hours Le Mans he was the youngest), Jan was always contracted as the manufacturer driver (Lola in 2007, Aston Martin in 2008, 2009). Despite his youth, he finished three editions of 24 Hours Le Mans in Top 10. His achievements in the 2009 season were appreciated by FIA Talent of the Year Award.
To make his step up to the Formula 1 World Championship is Jan Charouz's next challenge and also his dream. His journey to F1 will see Jan participate in the World Series by Renault, together with GP2 Series, the best feeder category to Formula 1, and Auto GP championship. However, at the same time Jan Charouz is making the most of his opportunity as a Renault F1 Team Reserve Driver.