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Yas Marina day three - Vergne makes it a hat trick 17 Nov 2011

Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Sam Bird (GBR) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One Testing, Day Two, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday, 16 November 2011 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Ferrari 150 Italia.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Max Chilton (GBR) Force India VJM04.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C30.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Stefano Coletti (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Alexander Rossi (USA) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Nathanael Berthon (FRA)  HRT Formula One Team HRT F111. 
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Charles Pic (FRA) Virgin Racing VR-02.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Robert Wickens (CDN) Virgin Racing VR-02.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Max Chilton (GBR) Force India VJM04.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 Oliver Turvey (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011

Jean-Eric Vergne completed a clean sweep at Yas Marina on Thursday as he again topped the times for Red Bull in the final day of this week’s Abu Dhabi young driver test. Vergne was the only man to better 1m 40s as he improved significantly on his Wednesday best with a 1m 38.917s.

Mercedes’ Sam Bird took over from Ferrari’s Jules Bianchi as Vergne’s closest rival, the Briton splitting the two Frenchman with a lap of 1m 40.897s. Bianchi finished just over half a second down on Bird, pipping McLaren’s Oliver Turvey.

Of Red Bull’s session, head of race engineering Ian Morgan said: “It was a frustrating day, due to a few niggly reliability issues which hampered our progress in the afternoon - but we had a good morning. Looking to Jean-Eric, I must say I have been very impressed with him during this test. He’s not really been in our car for any length of time before this week and he hasn’t made a single mistake. He’s good at taking in information and using it as required and he’s been consistent and controlled. He was able to do as we ask and put in a lap time whenever we needed - he’s done a good job.”

Mercedes ran their car with a higher, 2012-spec exhaust position in the morning to help them collect data for next season. In the afternoon the MGP W02 was reverted to its standard configuration as Bird focused on set-up development on soft tyres.

"We have had a very good test in Abu Dhabi this week, and my compliments to Sam and the team for their efforts over the three days,” commented team principal Ross Brawn. “The test has enabled us to make a good start to our 2012 preparations, and provided a wealth of data for our engineers to study. Sam has performed extremely well this week, providing consistency and accuracy in both his driving and feedback, and our engineers have been very impressed with his contribution."

At Ferrari, Bianchi - like Vergne and Bird, enjoying his third day in the car - worked on various set-ups and aerodynamic measurement in the morning, before evaluating the experimental Pirelli tyres over long runs in the afternoon.

At McLaren, Turvey returned to the cockpit to conclude the development work he initiated at the start of the test on Tuesday. The team finished off their initial running of aero and mechanical systems for 2012, completing some fundamental research which will be fed into the development and build of next year’s car, the MP4-27A.

Max Chilton was back in the VJM04 for Force India following his Tuesday run and went an encouraging fifth fastest after almost 80 laps.

“We managed to do quite a lot, including some set-up work and a few long runs after lunch,” reported the British driver. “At the end of the day I had some fresh tyres, but it was a shame there was a red flag in the middle of my final run. Still, I’m happy with the job I’ve done this week and I really hope I get the chance to do it again. Working with the team has been an incredible experience and I’ve learned a massive amount.”

Sauber reserve Esteban Gutierrez was sixth fastest after his second day in the C30, despite a spin on his final lap that briefly brought out the red flags.

“We had another very productive day of testing with Esteban,” reported Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber’s head of track engineering. “In the morning we started with an hour and a half of aero measurements with the 2012 tyres. Then we did set-up work with these tyres we shall be using in the future. After the lunch break we then worked for the next race in Brazil by using this year’s medium and soft compounds. We finished the programme with a run on a set of super-soft tyres. Esteban impressed us again. He did a very professional and reliable job in testing. When working with him we tend to forget he is such a young rookie.”

At Toro Rosso, having each had a day’s running on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kevin Ceccon and Stefano Coletti got a further half day in the cockpit of the STR6. They set the eighth and 11th best times respectively.

“We achieved a very high number of kilometres which is especially useful as it validates the reliability of some elements we were testing with a view to the 2012 car,” reported the team’s chief engineer Laurent Mekies. “That was one part of the programme, while on the other hand, we also used this opportunity to prepare for the final round of the championship in Brazil, in just over a week’s time. Time spent evaluating Pirelli’s development tyres for next year has also been very productive. Both drivers worked well, not making any mistakes and delivering a positive contribution to the team.”

American Alexander Rossi got his first outing of the week for Lotus and went ninth quickest, the team concentrating primarily on suspension, damper and tyre work with the T128.

“To get behind the wheel and have that much time was really good,” said Rossi. “I was surprised at how much you learn during a day’s testing. There’s so much to take in, for example the briefing and debriefing sessions, it’s a whole step up from GP2, so it’s been an extremely valuable day.”

After running for HRT on Wednesday, Jan Charouz moved to Renault for Thursday’s session, the Czech driver going tenth fastest as he carried tyre and aero data acquisition work to aid the team’s 2012 development programme.

“I really enjoyed the day,” said Charouz. “The main priority was to try some new parts and to experience some different tyres and we managed to do that. We did a lot of laps which was really good for me. I’m happy that the team trusts me to do the development work with them, so that’s what we did for most of the morning. In the afternoon we did some quicker laps but I didn’t manage to do the lap times I wanted to do. I have to improve myself but otherwise I was consistent in the long run and I’m really happy Lotus Renault GP gave me the opportunity to do this test.”

At the wheel for HRT was 22-year-old Frenchman Nathanael Berthon, whose work centred on set-up of the F111’s control systems and tyres. Berthon, who admitted he was slightly too tall for the car, completed the programme without incident to end the day 12th fastest after just over 50 laps.

“Today’s work plan was quite intense and we’re very satisfied with how it went,” said HRT race engineer Angel Baena. “Both the team and the driver did a perfect job and we completed the programme. We planned various tyre tests for today to get a better understanding of their degradation and behaviour on the first laps and also carried out some tests on the control system’s set up and some adjustments for next year’s car.

“We had a good connection with the driver and he adapted very quickly to the car. You could see he was really motivated, brave on quick corners but also very professional. The only inconvenience was that he is really tall and didn’t feel too comfortable in the cockpit, but despite this he worked hard and it showed. I think he has great potential.”

After his slightly compromised Wednesday session, 21-year-old Frenchman Charles Pic was back in the car for Virgin in the morning to complete a long-run tyre programme and to test development components for next year’s car. He handed over to Virgin tester Robert Wickens for the afternoon for more tyre work and they ended the day 14th and 13th respectively.

“It’s been a fascinating week here in Abu Dhabi, observing not only the young drivers Marussia Virgin Racing have been putting through their paces but also the next generation of drivers testing up and down the pit lane,” commented John Booth, Virgin team principal. “Adrian (Quaiffe-Hobbs), Charles and Robert have all acquitted themselves impressively and it has been a delight to work with each of them.

“Our objectives for here were two-fold - to evaluate the young drivers and at the same time work on some important developments for 2012, the most significant of which has been the Pirelli prototype tyres. The data we have collected this week has been invaluable and will be fed straight back into the 2012 design process.”

With testing complete, the teams now head to Sao Paulo for next weekend’s season finale, the Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobras Do Brasil 2011.

Unofficial Thursday times from Yas Marina
1. Jean-Eric Vergne, Red Bull, 1:38.917, 46 laps
2. Sam Bird, Mercedes, 1:40.897, 104
3. Jules Bianchi, Ferrari, 1:41.347, 106
4. Oliver Turvey, McLaren, 1:41.513, 89
5. Max Chilton, Force India, 1:41.575, 79
6. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:42.049, 79
7. Mirko Bortolotti, Williams, 1:43.277, 74
8. Kevin Ceccon, Toro Rosso, 1:43.686, 35
9. Alexander Rossi, Lotus, 1:44.283, 74
10. Jan Charouz, Renault, 1:44.470, 82
11. Stefano Coletti, Toro Rosso, 1:44.545, 48
12. Nathanael Berthon, HRT, 1:45.839, 51
13. Robert Wickens, Virgin, 1:45.934, 34
14. Charles Pic, Virgin, 1:46.348, 49

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