Yas Marina day three - Valsecchi on top for Lotus 08 Nov 2012
This weeks young driver test in Abu Dhabi drew to a close on Thursday, with 2012 GP2 champion setting the fastest lap for Lotus around the Yas Marina Circuit. Valsecchi finished less than two-tenths up on the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen.
Valsecchi focussed on aerodynamic work and double-DRS iterations on the E20 in the morning, before switching to front drum testing and a tyre assessment programme in the afternoon, which allowed him to sample the various Pirelli compounds.
Its been a really good experience for me, said the Italian, who has previously tested with HRT and Caterham. I was very pleased with my sessions and followed everything the team asked of me without making any mistakes. I took it very easy in the morning so I could get used to the car and soon became more confident, meaning towards the end I was much better in terms of pace.
The team listened to my feedback and made the changes I suggested, particularly towards the end of running. I want to say thank you to Lotus F1 Team who have been really good; the engineers and the mechanics have all been brilliant and it has been a great day for me.
McLaren split their running between Magnussen and Oliver Turvey (fifth fastest), as the team carried out a series of detailed performance runs to assess the effects of some large, overnight mechanical changes.
Turvey continued evaluation of a new front wing in the morning, while in the afternoon Magnussen, back in the MP4-27 following his first run on Tuesday, ran through a series of mechanical balance changes aimed at unlocking tyre performance - and in the process clocked sufficient mileage to be able to apply for an F1 Superlicence.
This weeks test in Abu Dhabi was extremely useful for the team, said McLarens sporting director Sam Michael. Gary [Paffett], Oliver and Kevin all drove with great discipline to enable us to gather a considerable amount of data, collectively racking up more than 1,500 kilometres.
Gary and Oliver are outstanding team players and continue to deliver strongly for us. In Kevins case, his pace, consistency and engineering feedback were all excellent. Given his performance, he certainly didnt look like a guy who had never turned a wheel in a modern F1 car before the start of this week!
Sauber reserve Esteban Gutierrez was third fastest on his second successive day in the C31, the Mexican completing the teams programme without issue.
Today Esteban started with some more aero evaluation, explained Giampaolo DallAra, Saubers head of track engineering. We were running on high fuel, did some set up work and brake tests. Over lunch we changed the front suspension to test some new items. For the afternoon session we then gave Esteban some fresh tyres - one set of hard, two medium and one set of the soft compound.
Fourth in the times was the man who tested for Sauber on Tuesday, Robert Frijns, this time at the wheel for Red Bull having earned an outing in the RB8 by virtue of winning this years Formula Renault 3.5 series. The Dutchmans morning was spent on aero work, but in the afternoon - around some mechanical testing - there was time for some performance runs.
It was a long day and we tested a lot on the car, said Frijns. I think I did a good job for the team and team worked hard with me so Im pleased with how it all went. In the morning I was driving a little in cruise control as we were doing some aero work and the team needed accurate data with the flow-vis. In the afternoon there was some mechanical work, which was good and I think the team gathered a lot of useful data.
Id like to thank Renault for the opportunity to come to Red Bull Racing for this test in the RB8, he added. Its the quickest car at the moment, so it was a real pleasure to drive for them today. Thanks also to Red Bull Racing for giving me this opportunity to drive the car.
Sixth place went to 2012 GP2 runner-up Luis Razia, who racked up almost 70 laps for Toro Rosso despite feeling under the weather as he returned to the wheel of the STR7.
It was tough for me today, because Ive been running a fever, although it didnt stop me completing the programme, said the Brazilian. Like on Tuesday, the team had plenty of work for me to do and I was happy that I was able to find a good balance on the car and also had more confidence when it came to changing settings from the steering wheel while I was driving. Overall, these two days in the car have been a great experience for me and I really enjoyed working with an Italian team, as everyone at Toro Rosso made me feel very welcome.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rossos chief engineer, added: The past three days have been very productive, as our car ran with no major problems, which allowed us to complete a lot of laps. Our job list was very full, testing many items, the majority aimed at next years car, which will be very useful when it comes to preparing for 2013. In addition, its fair to say that some of the work could be beneficial to us in the remaining two races of this year. Both Luiz, on the first and last days and Johnny [Cecotto] yesterday, did a good job for us, by not making any mistakes, thus allowing us to complete our programme.
Completing the timesheet on what was the final day of Formula One testing in 2012 was Caterhams American test driver, Alexander Rossi.
Its been a great day in the car and I want to thank the whole team for giving me the chance to drive in Abu Dhabi, said Rossi. I last drove this car in FP1 in Barcelona back in May and its definitely come on a long way since then.
The plan today was mostly focused on running through setup options. With such limited time on Fridays at a GP this was a chance for us to work through a whole range of different setups and Im sure weve helped give the team a lot of information that will come into play at the last two races of the season.
Its obviously not ideal that we had to end the session early, but when I boxed after my 14th run there was oil on the garage floor so the engineers had to call the session over. That meant I didnt have the chance to do any performance runs and Im sure if I did my lap times would have been close to the race drivers, but issues like that are just one of those things. Theyll take a proper look at what caused the problem and Im sure it wont affect the teams preparations for Austin or Brazil.
Despite that its been a great day and another step in my development as a driver. The next time Ill be in a race car will be in Jerez for the GP2 test with Caterham Racing and Im really looking forward to picking up where we left off in Barcelona as the quickest car.
Unofficial Thursday test times from Yas Marina:
1. Davide Valsecchi, Lotus, 1m 42.677s, 86 Laps
2. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1m 42.827s, 51 Laps
3. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1m 43.093s, 80 Laps
4. Robin Frijns, Red Bull, 1m 43.233s, 53 Laps
5. Oliver Turvey, McLaren, 1m 43.604s, 44 Laps
6. Luiz Razia, Toro Rosso, 1m 45.286s, 68 Laps
7. Alexander Rossi, Caterham, 1m 46.485s, 85 Laps
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