Kush Maini says he loved every single second of his Formula 1 test with Alpine, driving their 2022-spec A522 in Spielberg earlier this month as part of their young driver test programme.

This was the Invicta Racing driver’s second test for the French outfit – having previously driven their 2021 car last year – but this was his first time in the current generation of ground effect cars.

It’s an occasion he will remember forever as when he reflected on the day, he admitted it was all yet to sink in.

“It was like a dream come true for me, something I've been working towards for a very long time,” Maini said. “To have been given the opportunity by Alpine is a dream come true and I really enjoyed every single second of it.

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“The car ran faultlessly through the day, we gathered loads of mileage and loads of data, so it's still slowly sinking in that we drove in F1 but it's just a very cool feeling.”

Talking through the preparations before getting into the car, Maini said: “F1 is very complex compared to a Formula 2 car, so there are lot more procedures to learn, a lot more things to keep in mind.

“So, I did seven days with Alpine on the sim, working with my engineer in the test as well so that I can get familiar with the whole team. Then we basically ran to our run plan in the sim so it's basically doing it again in real life, so you feel a bit more comfortable.

“It can be a bit overwhelming at the start because there are so many things you have to think about, so it's very important that those prep days with the team, they got me up to speed very quick and made me feel really comfortable.”

Maini called his F1 test with Alpine a dream come true
Maini called his F1 test with Alpine a dream come true

Maini also recalled his first push lap of the test with the immediate level of grip on offer a bit surprise to him, as well as the forces in the high-speed sections.

“It’s just so quick, so much grip,” said Maini. “It's almost like the car is designed so well that everything works so well that whatever you want the car to do, it does, especially in the high speed.

“You almost think it’s impossible to take so much speed through a corner but then you finish the corner, and you are like I could have taken more speed. It's trying to go quicker and quicker and quicker because the car can take it, it's almost like the car is capable of doing anything.”

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With the new Formula 2 car introduced this season to be more in line with the current generation of F1 machinery, Maini also explained how that helped him get up to speed quickly during the test.

He says the two cars have obvious differences but also some similarities, even giving a verdict on which is tougher to drive.

“I think obviously it is very different but the F2 car is very fast in the straights,” said Maini. “In the braking there is a lot more force that goes into your body, a lot more Gs in the F1 but I think the brake pedal in some ways can be a bit similar.

“Obviously, no power steering in the F2 car so the car is a bit trickier to drive than F1, so in that way it prepares you well. So, I feel I was quick straight away, so from the F2 car whatever I could take into the F1 car gave me confidence to get up to speed really quick.

Maini is looking forward to getting his Formula 2 season with Invicta back on track
Maini is looking forward to getting his Formula 2 season with Invicta back on track

“The F1 car is designed really well, and it’s designed to how you want it so it's going to be easier and you're going to feel more comfortable pushing it.”

Maini was speaking after jumping out of the simulator as part of his preparations for Barcelona, and while he is still on a high from the test, he is hoping that it will be the start of him getting his Formula 2 season back on track after a tough couple of rounds.

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“The high is great but I am currently ninth in the Championship in F2 and it's definitely not where we should be,” he said. “The last two rounds have been very tough, but the team and I have found out what happened and why we were off the pace.

“So, my whole focus is to get my season back on track and start putting in some solid results to get some solid points in the bag, that's my only goal right now. I'm sure we can do it, I'm just coming off sim prep with the team, it's nice to see everyone again.

“I'm feeling good but after a bad few weekends it's tough to have a long break because you just want to get back, so happy that there is a back-to-back race. Three weekends on the trot, let's see what we can do.”