Saelens samples F1 car at Misano

AT the recent European Minardi day at the Santa Monica (Misano) Circuit, Minardi F3000 driver David Saelens had his first experience behind the wheel of a Formula One car. The Belgian driver lapped the Italian circuit in front of an assembled crowd of Minardi fans and guests.

Saelens scored six top-ten finishes during the 2001 International F3000 Championship, despite missing three races due to injury.

Saelens commented, "Like any racing driver, the ultimate goal for me is Formula One. I had been told there might be the chance to try the Formula One car this season, and the opportunity arose here at Misano. It turned out to be everything I had imagined. The power, the handling and the braking are just incredible. It was a great experience, and once you have had a taste of it, you cannot help but want more".

Saelens is expected to participate in European Minardi's pre-season test program beginning in early January. Team boss Paul Stoddart said of the young Belgian's laps, "David put on a good show for all the European Minardi fans who were present at Misano and turned in a very solid performance. He obviously relished the opportunity of getting behind the wheel of the F1 car and was turning quick, consistent laps almost immediately. David has clearly demonstrated that he is capable of assisting us with (testing)".

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