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Jerez day one - Soucek fastest at young driver test 01 Dec 2009

Andy Soucek (ESP) Williams FW31 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Jules Bianchi (FRA) Ferrari F60 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain.  Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Brawn GP, BGP001 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Bertrand Baguette (BEL) Renault R29 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain.

Andy Soucek led the times at Jerez on Tuesday, as this week’s three-day young driver test got underway at the Spanish circuit. Soucek, testing for Williams as a prize for winning this year’s Formula Two championship, clocked a best time of 1m 19.158s to finish two-tenths ahead of Paul di Resta in the Force India.

With dry and sunny conditions, Spaniard Soucek was able to cover almost 90 laps, while Scotsman Di Resta completed 46 during his afternoon outing.

“Today was very constructive and we achieved what we wanted to achieve, which was to get familiar with the car and build up to speed slowly to fully prepare for the rest of the test,” said Di Resta, who has previously tested with McLaren.

“We tried a few different things, worked on a few set-up items and certainly went forward. That was the main goal, just building up on my side, learning more and moving forward together with the team. The VJM02 is certainly impressive and although I am still learning, I felt I could get to grips with it fairly quickly.”

Gary Paffett finished third for McLaren, conducting a number of aero configuration evaluations before focusing on tyres, and how they will perform in 2010 with higher fuel loads. Mid afternoon the team switched the MP4-24 over to McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver prize-winner Oliver Turvey. The afternoon run was primarily acclimatisation for the 22-year-old, who will undertake a longer stint on Thursday.

British Formula Three Champion Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Red Bull, despite an early spin. “I don’t think I stopped smiling all day,” said the Australian. “Working with the team was great and they let me go at my own pace until I built up some confidence. After that, we began working on things that will be useful for next season. This was the first time I’ve ever driven a Formula One car round corners, having previously only done a straight line test and I have to say, it’s got more grip than anything else I’ve ever driven.”

Fifth fastest was Jules Bianchi, who made his Formula One test debut for Ferrari. Frenchman Bianchi, who recently clinched the Formula Three Euroseries title, completed 91 laps in the F60 . The 20 year-old will continue to test on Wednesday, before handing over the car to a trio of Italian F3 series drivers on the final day.

“I am really proud to have made my Formula One debut at the wheel of a Ferrari, for the greatest team in the world,” said Bianchi. “At the start, I was being careful not to make any mistakes, then once I felt confident, I pushed harder. The team spirit here is incredible and I hope I have made a positive impression on them and I want to do even better tomorrow.”

Former British F3 champion, and former Honda tester, Mike Conway finished sixth for Brawn. Conway covered 58 laps in the BGP-001 as he acclimatised himself to the car and worked through an aerodynamic evaluation. Also in action for the world champions was 19-year-old Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson, who took over from Conway after lunch. The reigning Japanese F3 champion finished his first Formula One test eighth in the times after 50 laps.

Alexander Rossi was in action for BMW Sauber, having been awarded his F1 chance after winning the Formula BMW World Final event late last year. Eighteen year-old Rossi, who also clinched the 2008 Formula BMW Americas championship, focused on familiarising himself with the track and the car. Although he wasn’t sent out on a low-fuel run, he was charged with carrying out some set-up tests.

“I very much enjoyed this day,” said the Californian, who finished seventh. “It is impressive what the car does, how predictable and precise its reactions are, and how high the overall grip level is. But I have to admit I am also a little bit disappointed because being a racing driver you always want to be the fastest! I think in the afternoon we didn’t manage to find the perfect balance.

“Physically I have to say it was as demanding as I expected it would be. The power steering is a great help compared to GP2, but the G forces obviously are higher.”

Belgian driver Bertrand Baguette began Renault’s session with a full day in the car as his prize for winning the World Series by Renault 3.5 category earlier this season. The programme focussed mainly on evaluating Bertrand, but the team also tried some new development items in preparation for 2010. The 23-year-old covered 105 laps behind the wheel of the R29 as he completed a trouble-free first day in an F1 car.

"This was my first time in an F1 car and I really enjoyed it,” said Baguette. “There's a huge difference between the F1 car and a World Series car, especially the efficiency of the brakes, which is incredible, and the speed you can carry through the quick corners. Also, it's a completely different world and I've been getting used to working with five or six engineers instead of just one. We started the day with a long run so that I could get used to the car and then we started the technical programme as I worked on improving the set-up of the car. It was an amazing experience for me and I hope to do this again in the future."

American driver JR Hildebrand finished tenth on the back of his morning outing with Force India. “I was really impressed with the ability of the car,” said the 21 year-old Indy Lights champion. “It is different in every way to what I'm used to, both in terms of the outright speed, but also in terms of the characteristics of the car and how it behaves, brakes and drives through corners. Having raced on ovals I'm used to a high top speed, so that wasn't too much of a shock, but the amount of load it runs and how much speed you can carry through the corner took some getting used to.

“The track was clearly improving throughout the morning, so based on the program we were running, in terms of relative pace we were doing pretty well. I felt I was getting there and was starting to get the most out of the car, particularly towards the end.”

Brendon Hartley completed the timesheets at the wheel of Toro Rosso’s STR4. His programme did not get off to the best of starts, as he spun at the fast right hander, following the chicane, having just switched to different aero settings on the car. The damage was repaired in time for the New Zealander to get back on track by the end of the morning. His programme had three main elements: aero measurement testing in view of 2010, running the car with ballast to simulate the weight of next year’s cars on full tanks, as refuelling is banned, and carrying out some brake testing.

“Apart from going off the track early on, I was generally happy with the way the day went, as I had not driven an F1 car for a while, so now I’m looking forward to making the best of Thursday when I get another run,” said Hartley.

Testing continues at Jerez on Wednesday.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Jerez:
1. Andy Soucek, Williams, 1:19.158
2. Paul Di Resta, Force India, 1:19.369
3. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:19.426
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:19.534
5. Jules Bianchi, Ferrari, 1:19.626
6. Mike Conway, Brawn GP, 1:19.920
7. Alexander Rossi, BMW Sauber, 1:20.227
8. Marcus Ericsson, Brawn GP, 1:20.333
9. Bertrand Baguette, Renault, 1:20.511
10. JR Hildebrand, Force India, 1:20.537
11. Oliver Turvey, McLaren, 1:20.856
12. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, 1:21.325