Sauber reserve driver Raffaele Maricello has declared himself pleased with his performance after his first Formula 1 free practice session outing for the Swiss team today at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari Academy driver became the 100th Italian driver to participate in a Grand Prix weekend, and finished 13th-fastest in Felipe Nasr’s car in the opening practice session at the Sepang circuit, lapping 0.557 seconds slower than regular driver Marcus Ericsson.

“I’m really happy,” Marciello told reporters afterwards. “It was the first time for me on this track and the first time in this car, so it was not really easy to get the confidence fast, also because I didn’t do many laps.

“But I think overall the team and me did a good job. We completed every test we needed to do.”

It was the Italian’s second outing in current Formula 1 machinery, having previously sampled the Ferrari F14T at last year’s season-ending test at Abu Dhabi.

“I did the track in the simulator, but it is different when you when drive it for real,” he admitted.

“The conditions were really tricky. It was really hot and the track was really green, but I managed to learn the circuit quite quickly.

“I was quite close to Marcus. It’s not my car, so you’re a bit cautious and you take some margin, but in the end I was close in the fast corners and in braking, so I’m happy with my driving.”

“For the first time Raffaele was  in the car in FP1. He had to get familiar with the Sauber C34 and to find performance at the same time, which is not easy, but he did a good job,” commented Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering, Giampaolo Dall’Ara.

Speaking of the entire Friday’s running – where the cars finished midfield on the timesheets – Dall’Ara added: “It’s not easy to read anything into this day. First of all with these extreme temperatures it was difficult for the engineers and drivers to keep the tyres alive, despite being the hardest compounds. This has an influence on the balance of the car. We have to analyse the data very carefully in order to understand everything. It will be important to have a good weather forecast. We expect the temperatures not to be as high as they were today. We will have a lot of work to do overnight in order to make the right changes.”

Image via Sauber AG

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Geoff Burke

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