Sahara Force India Formula One Team Development driver Alfonso Celis made his Formula One debut on Monday as winter testing got underway at the Barcelona Circuit Du Catalunya in Spain.

The Mexican completed 58 laps in VJM09-02 on his way to recording the fifth fastest time of the day with a 1m 26.298s. Speaking following his first day in the car, Celis commented by saying:

I’m feeling very happy with how things went today. The start of the day was special when we launched the VJM09 and it was a big honour to be the first to drive the car. It was only my second day in a Formula One car, but I was able to enjoy the experience more than last time because I knew what to expect and I had a bit more confidence. The car was perfect today and I want to say a big ‘well done’ to everybody in the team for all their work over the winter to deliver this car. We managed to work through the whole plan with good reliability. I could not think of a better way to start the season and I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car on Thursday.

Sergio Perez will take over running the car on Tuesday before he hands the car over to Nico Hulkenberg on Wednesday before Celis concludes the test on Thursday. Speaking following the opening day of action, Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Chief Race Engineer Tom McCullough commented:

We took a cautious approach to the start of the day due to the overnight rain with the track taking quite a while to dry out. When we did get out in the middle of the morning, Alfonso worked through a lot of the systems checks needed for a new car before we moved to an aero correlation programme with various test instrumentation fitted to the VJM09. The aero work took up most of the day and it required Alfonso to make frequent adjustments on the steering wheel to help with the data gathering. As first days with a new car go, today has been remarkably smooth and Alfonso has done an excellent job. His approach was very mature and he steadily built up his speed during the day. We look forward to working with him again on Thursday.

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