Yas Marina day one - Vergne sets young driver pace 15 Nov 2011
Jean-Eric Vergne led the times at Yas Marina on Tuesday for Red Bull, as this weeks three-day young driver test got underway at the Abu Dhabi circuit. Vergne, who was second in this years Formula Renault 3.5 series, clocked a best time of 1m 40.011s in the RB7 to finish almost a second ahead of Jules Bianchi in the Ferrari.
The 21 year-old Frenchman carried out aerodynamic testing as part of the team's preparations for 2012 and evaluated some prototype Pirellis for next season. He completed 83 laps and will continue to test for the next two days.
That was a fantastic day for me, Vergne said. Driving the world championship-winning car is just great and I liked every lap I did out there. Knowing there are two more days still to do, just makes me smile more. Its a great opportunity from Red Bull Racing; Im trying to learn as much as possible and get as much as possible out of it.
Bianchi, who is Ferraris official tester and a member of their young driver programme, completed 85 laps. The French 22 year-old will also be in action for all three days of the test and kick started his work for the week with some aero and set-up evaluations.
Its great to be back at the wheel of a Ferrari on a real track, he said. Ive already driven this car for some aerodynamic testing, but doing it at a real test is a whole different story. Now, I am looking forward to a further two days of testing and we hope to carry on as we have started, with a lot of kilometres completed and trouble-free running.
Reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robert Wickens finished third for Renault. "I was hoping to be in the top three today and to be third is really good," said the Canadian. "Obviously you can always find ways to improve but Im sure that will come. I was surprised how different the Pirelli prototype 2012 was compared to the normal 2011 tyre - I did a long run at the end with heavy fuel and I was able to do a very consistent 20 lap run towards the end of the day on the soft tyre, which is a good sign for next year I think.
"Its the first time Ive been able to do consistent, long runs and to really start understanding the tyres. I trained very hard all season, prepared for this young drivers test and Im very proud of myself. I just wish I could stay a couple more days.
Fourth fastest was Swiss driver Fabio Leimer for Sauber. It was the first time Leimer had sampled a Formula One car and he was thrilled with his first day behind the wheel. He completed 74 laps. Sauber reserve Esteban Gutierrez will take over the C30 on Wednesday and Thursday.
To me it was good day, said 22 year-old Leimer. I was able to improve from the morning to the afternoon, and I learnt a lot for my future. I wasnt only impressed by the power of the car, as actually I didnt expect it to be so nice to drive. It is so stable and smooth when riding the kerbs compared to a GP2 car.
I was a bit worried about my neck before the test, but this wasnt an issue. What I could feel in the end was that the concentration needed during the entire day was quite intense. Obviously I had to learn a lot about procedures and switches. All in all, Im happy with what the team and I have done today - it was a great day, full of new experiences.
McLaren tester Gary Paffett set the fifth fastest time in the MP4-26 after his afternoon run. Paffett tested various systems for next years car, including the new car radio, as well as some operational background work, testing garage equipment and processes for the MP4-27. Also in action for the team was fellow British driver Oliver Turvey, who was eighth thanks to his morning time, set as he focused on gathering aero and 2012 tyre data.
British GP2 driver Max Chilton, meanwhile, was sixth for Force India. Chilton completed 81 laps as he acclimitised to the VJM04 and sampled Pirellis prototype tyres for 2012. On Wednesday fellow GP2 driver Johnny Cecotto Jr will be in action for the team before Chilton returns to the cockpit on Thursday.
I had been looking forward to this moment all my life and it definitely exceeded my expectations, said the 20 year-old. The performance of the car is just amazing, especially the downforce and traction, which are mind-blowing. The design of these cars is incredible and its left me wanting much more. Its scary how quick you can go through the high-speed corners, but the car is really well balanced and it feels very calm.
The morning session flew by really quickly while I was getting used to the car and the systems, but in the afternoon things settled down and we managed to do some good testing. Working with such a big crew was also a new experience for me and it makes life so easy because theres a person for every job and you can change things really quickly. I want to say thanks to the guys for a great day and I cant wait to jump back in the car on Thursday.
Seventh fastest was reigning GP2 champion Valtteri Bottas, driving for Williams. Bottas, who has previously carried out straight-line testing for the team, completed a long programme in the FW33, despite a gearbox issue.
I really enjoyed my first time driving the car on a proper track today, said the 20 year-old Finn. It didnt take too long to get used to the car but there were still a few new things for me. There is much more downforce and power than the cars I am used to driving, but I really liked it and I think the day went well. I was able to help the team make some progress with some interesting tests for next year. Im definitely looking forward to getting back in the car tomorrow as I have more to learn and I know I can do better.
Fellow GP2 driver Sam Bird was in action for Mercedes and finished in ninth. Bird ran with 2011-spec Pirelli tyres throughout the day whilst working on some development items for 2012. Although a transmission issue cost some running time in the morning, he completed 53 laps of the Yas Marina circuit and will continue to test on Wednesday.
"We did some good work today as the team began on-track preparations for the 2012 season, said the 24 year-old Briton. It's fantastic to be behind the wheel of a Formula One car again, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there. I'm looking forward to the next two days and making a contribution to the team's work for 2012.
Lotus fielded GP2 driver Rodolfo Gonzalez and took the tenth spot on the timesheets. Gonzalez covered 87 laps as he ran through aero and tyre programmes. For the Venezuelans last run of the day the team put soft tyres on the T128 to give the 25 year-old the chance to measure his progress on track and put in some final quick lap times.
We did a few runs in the morning so I could get used to the car which I found very useful and it really helped to improve my style of driving, he said. We ran some aerodynamic tests which took half of the morning, with many small adjustments and set-up changes, and then ran tyre tests on the 2012 Pirelli tyres. Im very happy with the car, and the team have been absolutely fantastic and given me a lot of help today.
I drove the T127 last year which is this cars predecessor and I can really see the difference and improvements in the T128 and across the whole team. Obviously the Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox play a big role in the change of the car, but overall it feels as though it has more downforce and is smoother to drive. The rear end is also more stable which gives me the confidence to push into the corners and to get on the power early on the exits.
Eleventh-quickest was Monaco-born GP2 driver Stefano Coletti, who was in action for Toro Rosso. Coletti completed 87 laps as he carried out tyre testing and aero data collection whilst trialling new 2012-spec parts.
This has been a very exciting day for me, as I finally got to drive a Formula One car for the first time, he said. I found it an amazing experience, from the speed, the huge amount of downforce and the way the engine power pushes you along. Nothing I have driven so far in my career has come close to the feeling I got driving a Formula One car.
At first, I found it hard to adapt to the feel of the power steering through the wheel, especially in the high speed corners, but once I got used to it, I could start to enjoy the experience even more. It was interesting testing the new tyres and it meant I was fortunate to run with several new sets, which is not normally the case.
Spanish GP2 driver Dani Clos was 12th on the back of his outing with HRT. The Barcelona-born 23 year-old completed 68 laps, as he tested aero parts and tyres in the morning and rear-suspension adjustments in the afternoon.
In the morning we carried out various aero tests and I think we extracted a lot of information that will be useful for the team, he said. We also tested the three compound tyres which helped me to see the different performance and behaviour of each one in order to adapt my style to the conditions.
"In the afternoon we carried out some different tests with the rear end and also with the different tyres to try and extract as much data as possible. We could reach a good level of performance with the car and I think that the team was satisfied with me both on and off the track and Im confident that we have set some solid bases for the future. It has been a great experience, not only driving an F1 car but doing it for a Spanish team is something fantastic.
Completing the runners on Tuesday were GP2 star Charles Pic and GP3 driver Adrian Quaife-Hobbs in 13th and 14th for Virgin.
An interesting day throughout the pit lane with a lot of new talent running, explained team principal John Booth. Both Adrian and Charles followed a very similar programme, which was designed to ease them into circuit running in an F1 car. Were very happy with how both of them have performed today.
Both used the soft Pirelli tyre, with Adrian perhaps slightly disadvantaged by the track temperature and Charles by only using one new set. We specifically chose to use the same tyre compounds as used by the race drivers last weekend to give the drivers a better reference, rather than using the super-soft compound which has clearly been shown to be the quicker tyre over one lap today. All in all, a good job from both drivers.
Testing continues at Yas Marina on Wednesday.
Unofficial Tuesday times from Yas Marina
1. Jean-Eric Vergne, Red Bull , 1:40.011
2. Jules Bianchi, Ferrari, 1:40.960
3. Robert Wickens, Renault, 1:42.217
4. Fabio Leimer, Sauber, 1:42.331
5. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:42.912
6. Max Chilton, Force India, 1:43.016
7. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:43.118
8. Oliver Turvey, McLaren, 1:43.502
9. Sam Bird, Mercedes, 1:43.548
10. Rodolfo Gonzalez, Lotus, 1:44.022
11. Stefano Coletti, Toro Rosso, 1:45.278
12. Dani Clos, HRT, 1:45.329
13. Charles Pic, Virgin, 1:46.930
14. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, Virgin, 1:47.292
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