Now, Spaniard Roberto Merhi has taken his first steps towards the longed for debut in a Formula 1 race that, foreseeably, will take place this Sunday at Sepang as Merhi was able to run in both sessions of free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix with Manor.
In the first session the Spaniard completed his first laps at the steering wheel of his new single-seater, having in addition to learn the layout of the Malayan track, on which he has never run, nor even trained in a simulator. In spite of going very carefully, and not having a high number of laps, Roberto set a time within the 107% rule. In the second session, unfortunately he could not complete the anticipated program, since he had a spin when he was improving on his personal best time and also aiming to beat his teammate. This also prevented him from using the soft tyres at the end of the session, so he ended up with a slower time, set before the final minutes, when most drivers improved theirs.
Tomorrow, in the third session of free training, the objective of the driver from Castellon de la Plana is to finish preparing for the important qualifying session that will take place at noon. Here he will have to have his first run with the soft tire, a new chapter of discovery for him, on a weekend in which practically everything he does is for the first time.
Roberto Merhi: “It’s a pain that I have not been able to make all the laps that we had predicted for the second session of free practice, because each lap has been more comfortable as I got more used to the feel of the car. It is hard to arrive at a Grand Prix and to have to learn not only the track but also the car, but all the Manor team is doing a great job and they are helping me and supporting me a lot. We have taken a very significant step forward with respect to Australia, but I hope to improve further tomorrow in the third session of free practice and and in qualifying.
Besides the sporting aspect, I want to remember all the families that are suffering because the sad aeroplane accident of last Tuesday. It was a shock for time when I learnt about it just after landing at Singapore. We took off from Barcelona’s airport almost at the same time it happened. I want to send them all my love and support at such a very sad moment for them all.”