The Lotus Racing team and a young Malaysian have made it into Formula One’s history books. 16-year old Nabil Jeffri became the youngest ever F1 test driver when he stepped into the Lotus T127 at the Imperial War Museum runway in Duxford, England. Jeffri, an AirAsia ASEAN Driver Development programme member, conducted a day of aero testing and gave the team valuable pitstop practice.

“I have had an incredible day, one of the best days of my life, and I want to thank Lotus Racing, Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne for giving me the chance to drive their car. I have to admit that the first time I went out it was pretty scary – everyone told me the acceleration would be unbelievable, and the braking would be so much greater than anything I’ve ever experienced, and it took a while to get used to that, but Heikki and Fairuz gave me some advice on how to settle in to it, and after a while I was more comfortable.

“It’s such an honour to have had this opportunity, and it’ll be a long time before the excitement wears off, but I’ll keep on working hard to one day join Heikki, Fairuz, Jarno and the rest of the F1 grid, and with the support of people like Tony and Lotus Racing, I’ve got a great chance of doing so,” Jeffri said.

Heikki Kovalainen, who was there to help the young man, had this to say: “It’s a great experience for Nabil and it’s really good to see how well he did. I told him to enjoy it, and not get stressed about trying to impress everyone too much. He did a great job today – he quickly picked up the correct procedures, and was working well with the whole team, which is pretty awesome when you think we’ve got the proper race team here today which could have been a bit daunting.”

“He completed the planned programme, gave clear and precise feedback, and we couldn’t ask any more of him than that. I’m sure this experience will help him take another step forward in his career, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on him to see if what he’s learnt today can help him take that next step up, in performance terms, in the Asian Formula BMW Championship,” said Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne.