Caterham debutant Andre Lotterer was elated with a strong performance in difficult wet conditions at Spa that saw him qualify one second clear of regular driver Marcus Ericsson.
Lotterer, a three time winner at Le Mans, has never driven an F1 car since he tested for Jaguar in 2002. However, when asked to step in for a one off race in Belgium, he’s beaten all expectations, making his teammate look rather average.
“This is definitely a speedy way of learning how to drive an F1 car!,” said the German. “Yesterday was dry while today was wet, so all this is now covered and I know exactly what to expect in both those conditions. I think it was a very tough qualifying session for me.”
“I had to figure it all out while I was out there, so I’m very happy that I brought the car back without making many mistakes – it was so easy to lose it out there! In the end I managed to complete two decent laps and I’m really happy with my result.”
Despite being actively competing in Super Formula, Japan’s premier single seater series, driving a Formula 1 car after such a long haul remains a challenger, as the 32 year old explains: “The most difficult part of this weekend is figuring it all out in such a short period of time: understanding where the grip is, where to brake, how to handle the throttle and the power.”
Marcus Ericsson lamented the fact that he couldn’t get a clean lap in qualifying but feels optimistic of a strong showing, if the race turns out to be dry.
“I think we could’ve been quite competitive in the rain but unfortunately we were in the wrong place on track all the time so I didn’t get a single clean lap. I’m disappointed because we could’ve done much better if we had put a lap together,’’ the Swede said post qualifying.
“It doesn’t really matter what weather conditions we race in tomorrow, I think we’re going to have a tough race anyway, but we need to make the most of the opportunities that come up during the race tomorrow. In the dry this morning we were out early on the option tyre, so that’s why we were a bit off the pace, but the car felt a lot better today in the dry, so if there’s a dry race tomorrow I think that there’s potential to do well,’’ he added.