Former Formula 1 drivers Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella, along with a host of other S5000 drivers got a chance to prepare for the opening round of the VHT Australian S5000 Championship at Winton Motor Raceway today.
Barrichello and Fisichella were joined by Williams Grand Prix test/reserve driver Jack Aitken, Super2 Series contender Thomas Randle and young gun Antonio Astuti on the 3.1km rural Victorian venue.
It was a chance for Barrichello to get reacquainted with the thundering S5000 race car, now adorning backing from Pilatus, Kayo and Cap Rouge.
For Fisichella and Aitken, it was their first-ever time driving an S5000 open wheeler, with both enjoying the experience and looking forward to the weekend ahead.
S5000 will support the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park this weekend. Thursday will see a practice and qualifying session ahead of one race on all three remaining days.
“It’s great to be back in Australia and back in the S5000 car,” said Rubens Barrichello.
“Winton is a really different track to what we will experience at Albert Park but it was really fun to drive the car around here and get to know some of the other circuits here in Australia.
“My last time at Albert Park was in 2011 but it’s going to be great to come back to Melbourne and introduce the Formula 1 car to the S5000 Championship.”
“It’s great to hear that Fisichella has come onboard for this weekend, it’s a bit of a reunion with an old friend and a former competitor.”
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“The S5000 is a really impressive car,” said Giancarlo Fisichella.
“I’m really happy to come back to Albert Park this weekend.
“My first race in Formula 1 was there in 1999 and I won the Australian Grand Prix in 2005 so I have great memories coming back there.
“I feel the S5000 will suit the Albert Park circuit where we can really feel the power of this car compared to the tight corners of Winton where we tested today.”
“My first impression is that it’s quite different to what I’m used to,” said Aitken.
“I’m used to things that have a bit more downforce, so we have a similar power and weight (compared to Formula 2), but not that aero effect in the high speed.
“It moves around a lot, and it takes a bit to get used to. The tyres are quite different, quite hard, but it’s a lot of fun.
“It’s a handful, but the Winton track is nice and fast and flowing. I think it will be pretty bumpy when we get to the GP circuit, but my first impressions are that it’s pretty good.”