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Yas Marina day two - Ricciardo stays top for Red Bull 17 Nov 2010

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday 17 November 2010. Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Renault R30. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday 17 November 2010. Jules Bianchi (FRA) Ferrari F10. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday 17 November 2010. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso. Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday 17 November 2010. Rodolfo Gonzalez (VEN) Lotus T127 Formula One Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday 17 November 2010.

If taking the 2010 constructors’ and drivers’ titles wasn’t enough, Red Bull proved the RB6 is the best car in the hands of a rookie too on Wednesday, with Daniel Ricciardo once again taking top honours as this week’s young driver test drew to a close at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

Ricciardo’s best of 1m 38.102s was seven-tenths of a second quicker than Jerome D’Ambrosio in the Renault. With dry and sunny conditions, Ricciardo was able to complete 77 laps, his quickest outstripping the pole position time set by 2010 world champion Sebastian Vettel in the same car last Saturday by over a second.

“It was cool to do this test and great to get so close to the big boys times from the weekend!” said the Australian. “It’s very rare to get a perfect car, but I have to say this is very close. It’s a pleasure to drive it, you brake and you turn and the car does everything as you imagine it would. I think I got most of my nerves out of the way before last year’s test, so I was more relaxed this time. It’s been a great two days and it would be fantastic to get the chance to drive in Formula One full-time.”

Fresh from driving the Virgin on Tuesday, D’Ambrosio took charge of Renault’s R30 and completed 83 laps. “He improved with each run and showed very strong pace at the end of the day,” said Alan Permane, Renault’s chief engineer. “We started off with some aero work early on and then concentrated on a suspension set-up programme in the afternoon. We were very impressed with Jerome in and out of the car and his feedback was excellent: he's very precise on what the car is doing and what he wants from the car to make it faster."

GP2’s Sam Bird was third fastest for Mercedes GP. Team principal Ross Brawn was impressed with Bird, saying: "Sam has worked very well with his engineers and the team, proving himself to be professional and disciplined in the car, with an excellent grasp of our procedures and our requirements from the test programme. I have been very impressed with his performance. I am sure that this experience, both working with the team and driving the car, will prove very useful for the development of Sam's career."

Bird finished over half a second ahead of McLaren tester Gary Paffett, fourth after a day spent gathering tyre data and carrying out set-up work in the MP4-25. Newly-announced 2011 Ferrari tester Jules Bianchi was fifth in the F10.

Mexico's Sergio Perez, who will race for BMW Sauber in 2011 alongside Kamui Kobayashi, covered 91 laps in the C29. Perez carried out practice starts and conducted set-up and aero work. “I am very happy to have completed my first day of testing with my new team,” said the 20 year-old, runner-up in this year’s GP2 Series. “I think in the course of the day I got closer to the limit. I was very happy with the way we worked.”

Seventh-quickest was Paul di Resta in the Force India. The reserve driver conducted some development work during a 90-minute slot in the morning, before handing over the VJM03 to Yelmer Buurman. The 23 year-old Dutchman covered 67 laps on his way to tenth in the times.

“Obviously it's an amazing experience to finally get out on track in an F1 car,” said Buurman. “You go into it expecting something and it's even more impressive than you imagined. I was really blown away by the performance and the steering. It's been a great day. This was my first step into F1.”

After his spell in the HRT on Tuesday, reigning GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado switched to the Williams and finished eighth.

"Today was another great experience," said Maldonado. "We had to do a lot of slower speed aero set-up work today so I couldn’t really push it, and I didn’t get a run of the soft tyre either, but I’m pleased with the work I’ve done. I’m getting lots of track time this week, which is improving my confidence in the car."

Toro Rosso once again fielded Jean-Eric Vergne, although the team were forced to curtail their running early as the young Frenchman had to depart for this weekend’s Macau Grand Prix. Despite an engine issue, British International Formula Three champion Vergne covered 61 laps and finished ninth in the timesheets.

"He put in a good performance over these two days and our engineers were impressed with the feedback he was able to provide,” said Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost. “He completed a total of 154 laps without making any driving mistakes, gradually stepping up his pace over the course of the test.

“He now has to dash off to Macau for the famous Formula Three race, which is a once in a lifetime opportunity for any young racing driver. We wish him the best of luck there this coming weekend and, based on his performance here in Abu Dhabi, I am sure we will see him in Formula Oneon a permanent basis in the future."

HRT ended the day as the fastest new team, with 2010 GP2 Asia Series champion Davide Valsecchi occupying 11th slot. Italian Valsecchi shared driving duties with 2007 Formula BMW series runner-up Josef Kral, who finished 13th.

Splitting the two HRT drivers was Virgin reserve Luiz Razia. “I managed to make the best of the opportunity and the track conditions," said Razia. "It took me a few laps to get fully up to speed with all the buttons on the steering wheel but after a while I felt very comfortable. It has been a real pleasure to drive the car in representative conditions and to be able to work so closely with the team."

Completing the timesheets were Venezuelan Rodolfo Gonzalez and Bulgarian Vladimir Arabadzhiev in 14th and 15th for Lotus. 2006 British National Formula Three champion Gonzalez covered 44 laps in the morning, before 2008 Formula Master Italia champion Arabadzhiev completed 49 in the afternoon.

“We would like to thank both Rodolfo and Vladimir for doing such a good job for us in their first time in a Formula One car,” said Lotus chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “Their input with the team has been exactly what we wanted and they have both done a fantastic job working exactly to the programme we set them. Most importantly neither driver made any mistakes and they both gave us very impressive feedback which is what we need from them in this type of test.”

Although Wednesday’s running concludes the two-day young driver test, the teams will be in action for a further two days at Yas Marina from Friday for their first Pirelli tyre test, as the Italian company prepares to take over from Bridgestone as sole F1 supplier in 2011.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Yas Marina:
1. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:38.102
2. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Renault, 1:38.802
3. Sam Bird, Mercedes GP, 1:39.220
4. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:39.760
5. Jules Bianchi, Ferrari, 1:39.916
6. Sergio Perez, BMW Sauber, 1:40.543
7. Paul Di Resta, Force India, 1:40.901
8. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:40.944
9. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:40.974
10. Yelmer Buurman, Force India, 1:41.178
11. Davide Valsecchi, HRT, 1:43.013
12. Luiz Razia, Virgin, 1:43.525
13. Josef Kral, HRT, 1:44.143
14. Rodolfo Gonzalez, Lotus, 1:44.312
15. Vladimir Arabadzhiev, Lotus, 1:45.723

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