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Yas Marina day one - Ricciardo sets young driver pace 16 Nov 2010

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday 16 November 2010. Oliver Turvey (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday 16 November 2010. Mikhail Aleshin (RUS) Renault R30. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday 16 November 2010. Rodolfo Gonzalez (VEN) Lotus T127 Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday 16 November 2010. Rio Haryanto (INA) Virgin Racing. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday 16 November 2010. .

Red Bull’s reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo led the times at Yas Marina on Tuesday, as this week’s two-day young driver test got underway at the Abu Dhabi circuit. Ricciardo, who won the 2009 British Formula Three championship, clocked a best time of 1m 39.616s in the RB6 to finish over a second ahead of Oliver Turvey in the McLaren.

2009 Formula Renault 2.0 champion Antonio Felix da Costa finished third for Force India. Da Costa ran with a variety of settings, fuel loads and aero configurations and completed 77 laps. Also in action for the team was reserve driver Paul di Resta, who took charge of the VJM03 for 90 minutes to test development items ahead of the tyre test later this week. Di Resta ended the day in eighth.

“A good first day of testing for the team,” explained Dominic Harlow, Force India’s chief race engineer. “We started with Paul to make a short baseline and carry out some component testing and data collection. Antonio took over the car shortly before lunch, familiarised himself quickly and ran through several tyre and long run evaluations as part of what is now our standard Young Driver Programme.”

GP3 Series champion Esteban Gutierrez was fourth for BMW Sauber. “I enjoyed the day a lot and it is a shame it is over!” said the Mexican, who also tested for the team at last year’s young driver test. “Of course I had to adapt to the car after I hadn’t driven an F1 car for almost a year, but this was no problem. My mental approach to driving is always to be consistent in my progress. I hope this worked out and I was able to do something for the team today.”

Fifth fastest was reigning Formula Two champion Dean Stoneman. After completing some aero work, Stoneman used the afternoon to put some times on the board.

“That was slightly different to what I’m used to!” he said. “It’s a big step up from a Formula Two car, particularly the difference in aero. It was good to start off with some speed-limited aero work as it allowed me to build up to doing quicker laps in the afternoon. Towards the end of the day, I just kept pushing to see where the limit of the car is and where I could improve my times around the lap. To be given the chance of driving a Formula One car doesn’t come around that often, so I feel very privileged.”

2010 World Series by Renault champion Mikhail Aleshin finished in sixth for Renault. Aleshin covered 58 laps as he acclimatised himself to the R30 and worked through some aero-mapping work. The team will field Jerome D’Ambrosio on Wednesday.

“It was my first proper day in an F1 car and I have to say it definitely lived up to my expectations,” said the Russian “It felt great to be part of the team, working with the engineers and the mechanics and we managed to do lots of different things during the day. By the start of the afternoon we had quite a nice balance with the car and it felt really good.

“The only issue we had was a hydraulic leak, which cost me some track time at the end of the day. That was a shame because it meant that I couldn’t go out when the track temperature was low and when the track was at its quickest. But overall it has been a fantastic experience and I want to say a big thank you to the team and to Renault Sport because this was a great opportunity for me”

British Formula Three International champion Jean-Eric Vergne was in action for Toro Rosso and finished in seventh, ahead of Di Resta. Vergne evaluated various aerodynamic configurations, carried out a tyre comparison and also sampled the car in race trim. The Frenchman will continue to test on Wednesday.

“We completed a very busy schedule today, split between an evaluation of the driver and working on elements for next year’s car,” said Toro Rosso’s chief engineer, Laurent Mekies. “Jean-Eric performed consistently throughout the day and it was good that he was fit enough to complete 93 laps without any problem.”

Mercedes GP fielded 2010 GP2 driver Sam Bird and took the ninth spot on the timesheets. The 23 year-old Briton covered 67 laps. He acclimatised himself to the MGP W01 as he worked through a test programme which included aerodynamic and set-up direction work.

"Sam drove very well today and the training that he has put in on our simulator at the factory recently really paid off as he was able to get to grips with the car quickly and understand all of our procedures right from the start,” said Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn. “Sam provided strong feedback on the set-up direction and we should be able to achieve further performance work tomorrow and are confident that Sam will provide good results."

Although he’ll be in action for Renault on Wednesday, D'Ambrosio drove for Virgin on Tuesday. The young Belgian driver has completed four Friday Formula One sessions for the team in 2010, and finished 10th on the timesheets. Before lunch Indonesian GP3 driver Rio Haryanto enjoyed his first experience of a Formula One car, completing 21 laps on his way to 14th.

“We were able to successfully complete a busy test programme today, and both our young drivers did an excellent job,” said Virgin team principal John Booth. “There was enormous pressure on Rio on his F1 debut but he coped with it admirably and was just getting up to speed when unfortunately a gearbox problem curtailed his morning’s running. Jerome, of course, is quite familiar with the car from his Friday morning sessions, and as usual he impressed us with his calm approach and intelligent feedback as he worked through the test programme. Tomorrow Luiz Razia will take over the driving duties for us.”

GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado was 11th on the back of his outing with HRT. Maldonado, who previously tested for Minardi back in 2004, completed 108 laps. Fellow GP2 drivers Josef Kral and Davide Valsecchi will test for the team on Wednesday, whilst Maldonado will switch to the Williams before returning to the HRT garage later in the week for the Pirelli tyre test.

“It was a great feeling to be back in a Formula One car,” said Maldonado. “I got more confident with this car during the day and I could improve the lap times constantly when the track conditions improved. We were quite quick today and I pushed a lot to show a good performance.”

Twelfth fastest was 2009 Formula Three Euroseries champion Jules Bianchi in the Ferrari. Bianchi, who will be a tester for the Italian team next year, covered 58 laps. The Frenchman’s programme centred mainly on gathering data relating to the handling of the car and he will continue to test on Wednesday.

“I am happy to have this opportunity to do two days of testing with the F10 and I am pleased to be able to give the team a hand in preparation for next season,” said the 21 year-old. “It was an unusual day, in that we worked exclusively on measuring various parameters, without ever looking for performance. I am learning a lot being here with the team and seeing at first hand how they go about their work.”

Venezuelan Rodolfo Gonzalez was in action for Lotus and finished in 13th. It was the first time Gonzalez had sampled a Formula One car and he was thrilled with his first day behind the wheel. He completed 83 laps.

“What an incredible day,” said the 24 year-old. “As I pulled out for my first lap I could not believe I was finally at the wheel of a Formula One car. It has been 18 years of hard work and sacrifice to reach this point and I want to say thank you to Lotus Racing for giving me this opportunity. Since I arrived here the whole team has been just great.

“They have all given me real confidence and said I did not have to try to impress anybody, you have already impressed people anyway so just do a good steady job and you will be fine. Mike Gascoyne told me today was not about proving I am ready for F1, but it would show if I am not ready so I just wanted to do the most intelligent job I could. I have learnt a huge amount over the last couple of days and tomorrow I hope I can continue to progress on track and put in another good performance.”

Testing continues at Jerez on Wednesday.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Yas Marina:
1. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:39.616
2. Oliver Turvey, McLaren, 1:40.725
3. Antonio Felix da Costa, Force India, 1:41.381
4. Esteban Gutierrez, BMW Sauber, 1:41.432
5. Dean Stoneman, Williams, 1:41.522
6. Mikhail Aleshin, Renault, 1:42.073
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:42.489
8. Paul Di Resta, Force India, 1:42.736
9. Sam Bird, Mercedes GP, 1:42.985
10. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Virgin, 1:43.518
11. Pastor Maldonado, HRT, 1:43.750
12. Jules Bianchi, Ferrari, 1:43.894
13. Rodolfo Gonzalez, Lotus, 1:44.924
14. Rio Haryanto, Virgin, 1:49.439

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