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Vettel gets first taste of new Toro Rosso 15 May 2008

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 Formula One Testing, Day One, Paul Ricard, France, 14 May 2008. World ©  Bumstead/Sutton
  
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 Formula One Testing, Day One, Paul Ricard, France, 14 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton

While the rest of the teams' new cars already have five Grands Prix under their belts, Toro Rosso have yet to run their 2008 machine under race conditions. But on Wednesday the Italian squad came one step closer to realising that dream following Sebastian Vettel’s positive first test in the STR03 at Paul Ricard.

Toro Rosso, who started the season with an interim version of last year's car, had scheduled to race the STR03 at last weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix. However, the squad were forced to shelve those plans back in April when Sebastien Bourdais crashed the car heavily during the its first public outing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

The STR03 is now due to make its race debut at the Monaco Grand Prix later this month and so Wednesday’s test at the French circuit was Vettel’s first chance to experience the new car.

With Paul Ricard set up to simulate the twists and turns of Monte-Carlo, the young German was understandably keen to carry out plenty of running in his new charge and over the course of the day he managed to cover 99 laps.

Although there were a few teething problems, most notably a faulty timing transponder, the new car performed admirably, and the 20 year-old eventually clocked a best time of 1m 06.372 seconds to take fifth place in the timesheets - just three-hundredths of a second adrift of stablemate Mark Webber in Red Bull’s RB4.

As well as completing several standardised checks, Vettel also found enough time to test the ‘soft’ and ‘supersoft’ Bridgestones and carry out some set-up work for the Monaco race. He will hand the STR03 back to Bourdais for Thursday’s running.