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Jerez day two - Paffett leads younger rivals for McLaren 02 Dec 2009

Gary Paffett (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Williams FW31 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) BMW Sauber F1 Team F1.09 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Paul Di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 Team VJM02 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Lucas Di Grassi (BRA) Renault R29 and Ho-Ping Tung (CHN) Renault R29 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain.

McLaren’s Gary Paffett proved on Wednesday that experience is still a valuable commodity in Formula One racing, after dominating the second day of this week’s young driver test at Jerez in Spain.

The 28-year-old Englishman, who first tested for the team in 2001, was the only man to dip below the 1m 19s mark, clocking a best time of 1m 18.718s from his 80 laps to finish almost half a second ahead of 2010 Williams’ driver Nico Hulkenberg, who covered 94 laps.

Paffett was charged with carrying out a varied programme for the British team. He started by conducting vibration tests, before moving on to aero calibration evaluations and a baseline run. Most of his day, however, was taken up with simulating 2010 fuel-loads and their effect on balance and tyre degradation. On Thursday he will share the MP4-24 with young hopeful Oliver Turvey.

While Tuesday’s conditions had been dry and sunny, Wednesday’s running was hampered slightly by a light rain shower during the afternoon. The track dried quickly, however, and Hulkenberg, was able to post the second-fastest time of the day in the final hour for Williams.

British Formula Three champion Daniel Ricciardo impressed again for Red Bull and finished his second day in third place after covering 93 laps. Ricciardo, who has been a Red Bull junior driver for the last two seasons, tried out different tyre compounds and carried out various aero and brake tests.

“I found it a bit easier today,” said the Australian. “I knew what to expect this morning and the procedures were easier to understand, so I was able to concentrate on improving my driving and hopefully give my best in terms of providing the engineers with good feedback.”

DTM driver Paul di Resta was fourth quickest for Force India. Di Resta spent the morning in the VJM02 before handing it over to fellow hopeful JR Hildebrand after lunch. American Hildebrand, who recently clinched the IndyCar Lights championship, finished eighth. The duo conducted basic set-up evaluations as well as undertaking some work for next season with a simulated 2010 fuel load.

“We completed more than 100 laps between Paul and JR today to build on yesterday's positive start,” explained Force India’s chief race engineer Dominic Harlow. “We concentrated on looking more at the effects of 2010 regulation changes during today's test and that has produced some interesting results for us. A good effort from the team and the drivers.”

Fifth fastest was Formula One debutant Esteban Gutierrez, who was awarded the chance to test for BMW Sauber after winning the 2008 Formula BMW Europe championship. Gutierrez spent the morning familiarising himself with the car and track before focusing on mechanical set-up changes in the afternoon. The 18-year-old Mexican completed 68 laps before a hydraulic problem on the F1.08 ended his day early.

"It was a very positive day for me,” he said. “The main idea was to live that experience, to enjoy the day and to learn. This very high professional level means you have to be very calm and use your intelligence. Due to the hydraulic problem in the afternoon I was unable to make use of two more sets of fresh tyres, but on the other hand I had five sets, which of course is more than I ever had before on one day!

“I really thank the team for this much appreciated opportunity. I learned a lot for the day when I can hopefully jump into a Formula One car again. In the end, with the grip level getting higher, my neck was a bit stiff and it was good to evaluate my own physical condition. The extra training I did paid off."

Formula Renault 3.5 series champion Bertrand Baguette, who was in action for Renault on Tuesday, will test for the team on Thursday.

Former British F3 champion Mike Conway continued with Brawn GP and clocked the sixth-fastest time. Conway worked through a number of set-up changes and completed 83 laps. During the latter stages of the afternoon session he handed the car over to Japanese F3 champion Marcus Ericsson, who covered 37 laps as he continued to familiarise himself with the BGP-001. Ericsson ended the day seventh.

Ferrari, meanwhile, continued to field French hopeful Jules Bianchi, who set the ninth-quickest time. Bianchi, who recently won the Formula 3 Euroseries title, ran a race configuration during the day and covered 113 laps. Ferrari will trial the top three drivers from this season’s Italian Formula Three series - Italians Daniel Zampieri and Marco Zipoli, and 19-year-old Mexican Pablo Sanchez Lopez - on Thursday.

Renault split driving duties in the R29 between China’s Ho-Pin Tung and 2009 reserve driver Lucas di Grassi. Tung covered 67 laps before lunch to finish in 11th, but Di Grassi’s best was six-tenths faster and the Brazilian ended the day tenth.

"We ran Ho-Pin for the first half of the day, starting off on scrubbed tyres before giving him a couple of new sets later in the morning,” explained Renault’s chief race enginner, Alan Permane. “I was impressed with Ho-Pin as he settled into the car very quickly and worked well with the team. His driving style is quite well suited to an F1 car as he used the tyres well, had a good feel for the car and gave us precise feedback.

“The afternoon was mainly about getting Lucas comfortable in the car ahead of his full day tomorrow as this was his first time in the R29. Overall, we managed to complete our objectives for the day and we're well prepared for another productive day on Thursday."

Completing the timesheets in 12th was Formula Two racer Mirko Bortolotti, who took over from Toro Rosso's Tuesday runner, Brendon Hartley. Although some mechanical problems reduced his time in the car, Bortolotti was able to carry out brake and aero evaluations and completed some runs in the car which had been set up to simulate 2010’s heavy fuel loads.

“I really enjoyed today,” said the 19-year-old Italian. “Being able to help the team with testing for next year was very interesting, even though I had to spend some time in the garage in the morning. With so little testing allowed in Formula One, today was very important for me, giving me the chance to do some miles.”

This week’s young driver test at Jerez concludes on Thursday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez:
1. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:18.718
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:19.184
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:19.243
4. Paul Di Resta, Force India, 1:19.411
5. Esteban Gutierrez, BMW Sauber, 1:20.190
6. Mike Conway, Brawn GP, 1:20.222
7. Marcus Ericsson, Brawn GP, 1:20.440
8. JR Hildebrand, Force India, 1:20.517
9. Jules Bianchi, Ferrari, 1:20.586
10. Lucas di Grassi, Renault, 1:20.898
11. Ho-Pin Tung, Renault, 1:21.492
12. Mirko Bortolotti, Toro Rosso, 1:21.761