Gonzalez has Formula One track test
With the dust only just settling in Abu Dhabi on a dramatic season, former City College Norwich pupil Rodolfo Gonzalez has the chance to show he could cut it in Formula One.
The 24-year-old Venezuelan, who was born in Caracas but who has lived in Attleborough with his family from the age of 10, has been handed a seat at this week’s young driver test around Yas Marina – the venue for Sunday’s thrilling F1 conclusion and Sebastian Vettel’s drivers’ championship victory.
Gonzalez will work with Hingham-based Lotus Racing today and tomorrow morning, taking his place in a Formula One car for the first time having started racing in Formula Renault seven years ago – and he cannot wait to prove he has got what it takes.
“For me it is a great opportunity to test with the best of the new teams in Formula One; it will be a great chance to show what I can do really,” said the likable Gonzalez, from Abu Dhabi yesterday.
“Since I got to the circuit, the Lotus Racing people have been very welcoming, very embracing and very supportive.
“There is a lot of technical stuff to take in, but for sure I am confident in that I can do a good, solid and intelligent job.
“We have one and a half days which should be good. It should be interesting because we have many things to try, many things to learn – and I have enough time to do so.
“For any grand prix driver, it is important that in your first Formula One test you make a good impression. You have to be strong obviously, you have to be solid. But also it is the way you work, your aptitude, everything is being tested.
“So it’s the whole combination. I have to do the best job I can both in and outside the car.”
Gonzalez – who went to school in Eccles, near Snetterton, and is known as ‘Speedy’ – spent this season in Formula One’s feeder series, GP2, and finished 10th in Saturday’s final feature race.
And although he is a proud Venezuelan, Attleborough also feels like home.
“For me, to do my first Formula One test after so many years of hard work and so many years of struggle, it is a great time for me and for my family, and all those in Venezuela,” said Gonzalez.
“I now live between Barcelona and Attleborough, where my sister lives, and both places have their ups and downs!
“But it is my second home there. I enjoyed my time in Attleborough and I still do. I went to school there so I feel part of Norfolk.
“It’s great to have the support and the people from Norfolk have been great to me as one of them. It’s really nice.”
Fellow 2010 new boys Hispania – who also approached Gonzalez for this week’s test – will run with Czech driver Josef Kral and talented Italian Davide Valsecchi, who both appeared this season for Norfolk’s GP2 teams: Griston’s Super Nova Racing and Carleton Rode-based Ispor, respectively. Valsecchi’s team-mate, Penrith-born Oliver Turvey, will take a seat at McLaren for the test alongside Australian youngster Daniel Ricciardo.
As for Gonzalez, he is prepared to bide his time for a full-time F1 seat.
“For 2011, for sure, I will be returning to GP2; I don’t know which team yet, but it would be nice to have something that is as a test driver in Formula One as well,” he said.
“I think it would it would help me improve a lot as a driver and be stronger in GP2, to hopefully make a move further up for 2012.
“I’d love to do it in Formula One and I’ll try my best to achieve it.”
Hingham-based Lotus Racing will also have Bulgarian driver and 2008 Formula Master Italia champion Vladimir Arabadzhiev in Abu Dhabi running their 2010 T127-02 Formula One chassis.
Chief executive officer Riad Asmat added: “We are very pleased to have confirmed that Rodolfo and Vladimir will be driving for us in Abu Dhabi. They both come from countries with growing interest in motorsport, and the chance to give emerging drivers the opportunity to step up to Formula One is central to the Lotus Racing philosophy of embracing young talent.
“Everyone in the team is looking forward to working with them over the two day test and I am delighted we could give them this opportunity.”