16-year-old becomes youngest ever F1 driver
16-year-old Nabil Jeffri became the youngest ever person to drive a Formula One car this week after taking the Lotus Racing T127 for a drive at the Duxford aerodrome on Wednesday. The Malaysian driver was in the cockpit as part of a straightline test day for the team, in preparation for the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Race driver Heikki Kovalainen and test driver Fairuz Fauzy were both on hand to offer invaluable advice to the Formula BMW Pacific driver. The teenager also completed some practice pitstops, giving even more experience to the team's pit crew.
"I have had an incredible day, one of the best days of my life, and I want to thank Lotus Racing, Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne for giving me the chance to drive their car," said Nabil.
Nabil said he was scared the first time he went out in the car. "I have to admit that the first time I went out it was pretty scary - everyone told me the acceleration would be unbelievable, and the braking would be so much greater than anything I've ever experienced," continued Nabil, "and it took a while to get used to that, but Heikki and Fairuz gave me some advice on how to settle in to it, and after a while I was more comfortable, and was able to get through the day's plan."
Lotus Racing's team principal Tony Fernandes, also Malaysia, was delighted to see his countryman get his first taste of F1. "When I first offered Nabil the chance to drive our car he couldn't tell if I was joking or not, but I was very serious about giving a young Malaysian the chance to step up to the big time," said Fernandes. "He's repaid my faith in him and has performed incredibly well. Congratulations Nabil - you're a superstar!"