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Silverstone day one - Bottas leads the way at young driver test 12 Jul 2012

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW34 Third Driver.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day One, Silverstone, England, 12 July 2012 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day One, Silverstone, England, 12 July 2012 Ma Qing Hua (CHN) HRT Formula One Team Development Driver.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day One, Silverstone, England, 12 July 2012 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day One, Silverstone, England, 12 July 2012 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW34 Third Driver.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day One, Silverstone, England, 12 July 2012 Rio Haryanto (IND) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day One, Silverstone, England, 12 July 2012 Ma Qing Hua (CHN) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112 Development Driver.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day One, Silverstone, England, 12 July 2012 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day One, Silverstone, England, 12 July 2012

Williams reserve Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets as this week’s young driver test got underway at Silverstone on Thursday. Bottas, who has enjoyed several outings in the FW34 during Friday practice sessions this season, clocked a best time of 1m 31.436s from his 120 laps, as he carried out aero correlation tests and a race simulation.

“It’s been a really useful day for both me and the team,” said the Finn. “The shorter runs are good fun, especially on this track, but I was particularly looking forward to the longer runs. It was really useful to gather some information on how the tyres behave over the various runs and I feel that I am continuing to improve as a driver.”

With the majority of teams eschewing this week’s two-day session in favour of testing their youngsters later in the year, only two other squads - Marussia and HRT - joined Williams in action at the British track.

Despite cloudy conditions, the rain held off for most of the day, only arriving in the last half hour to interrupt proceedings.

Marussia fielded two drivers in the MR01 during the course of the day - Max Chilton and Rio Haryanto. Chilton finished in second after covering 34 laps in the morning, ahead of GP2 team mate Haryanto in third. The Indonesian only managed a handful laps in the afternoon after a fluid leak.

“It’s a little disappointing that I was only able to complete 19 laps today; even without the leak the weather turned against us later in the day,” said 19 year-old Haryanto. “It was still a very valuable experience for me and I really enjoyed working with the team. Everything was very well structured ahead of the test and here at Silverstone and the whole team are very open and always working together well.”

Twenty one year-old Chilton added: “Obviously I’m really happy to be given this chance anyway, but to be at a track where F1 has just been racing, and in my own home country, is even better.

"Once I got to grips with the car I was very happy and felt at home in the cockpit and in the team straight away. As we progressed I felt that I could really push the car and from then on we started to do some team development work, particularly with the engine, which gave me the chance to learn more about the controls.”

The final place on the timesheets was occupied by HRT tester Ma Qing Hua. The first Chinese-born driver to participate in an official Formula One event, Qing Hua completed 68 laps in the F112.

"It was a fantastic feeling to drive a Formula One car for the first time; it’s not easy to put into words what I felt," said the Shanghai-born 24 year-old. "Yesterday I found it hard to sleep and I tried to calm down by thinking that it was just another test.

"I think we did a good job and everything went according to plan, with good weather too. In the morning we did the maximum amount of running to get used to the car, engineers and mechanics and buttons, and also to gain confidence. I’m very proud to represent China and be a pioneer for my nation in this sport.

"I’m confident that these tests and the ones that will come in the future will help motorsport to grow in China in the future and will grant more opportunities for everyone. This is only a first small step but once more I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has supported me and made this possible."

The young driver test concludes at Silverstone on Friday, though without HRT, who have now completed their scheduled programme. Instead of Silverstone's Grand Prix circuit, which they used on Thursday, Williams and Marussia plan to use the shorter International Circuit layout on the final day.

Unofficial Thursday test times from Silverstone:
1. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1m 31.436, 120 Laps
2. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1m 36.558, 34 Laps
3. Rio Haryanto, Marussia, 1m 37.404, 19 Laps
4. Ma Qing Hua, HRT, 1m 37.829, 82 Laps

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