Marussia reserve driver, Rodolfo Gonzalez, will replace Jules Bianchi for the opening practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday, in what will be the first of several Friday practice outings for the 26-year-old Venezuelan. After competing in GP2 for the last four years, this will be Gonzalez’s first track appearance at an official Grand Prix weekend.
After partaking in numerous Formula 1 tests with the likes of Force India and Caterham in recent years whilst competing in various feeder categories, Rodolfo Gonzalez will gain valuable knowledge behind the wheel of the Marussia MR-02 machine this weekend. The Venezuelan driver feels fully prepared for his first taste of Formula 1 machinery since the Magny-Cours Young Driver Test last season, when he was behind the wheel of the Force India VJM05. Rodolfo Gonzalez already has extensive knowledge of the Bahrain International Circuit, after competing at the venue in both the GP2 and GP2 Asia categories.
“I’m really happy with this opportunity to drive in my first FP1 session of the season.” Explained Rodolfo Gonzalez, “It will be a nice feeling to be back in a car – especially to drive a Formula 1 car again – and with my previous F1 experience I feel more than comfortable and ready. I love this circuit; it will be quite dusty in FP1 but it’s also good fun and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve. I would like to thank the team for their faith in me. They have made me feel so welcome and have bent over backwards to involve me in every aspect of the racing.”
Naturally Jules Bianchi will return behind the wheel of the MR-02 machine later in the day for the second practice session, when he will begin his preparations for his first Formula 1 race around the Bahrain International Circuit. The Banbury-based outfit have already started the new season in superlative form, with Jules Bianchi in particular out-performing the Caterham duo at each of the opening three races.
Picture Copyright © Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service