Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo has headed the timesheets at the end of the opening day of the Young Driver test session at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit. The Red Bull reserve driver posted a fastest lap time just two-tenths of a second shy of the pole position time achieved by newly-crowned champion Sebastian Vettel last weekend.
The two-day event is rapidly becoming a fixture on the end-of-season Formula 1 calendar, allowing the teams the opportunity to give up-and-coming drivers the opportunity to strut their stuff in top-line machinery.
In contrast to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend itself, the first day’s running took place during normal daytime hours, wrapping up at 5pm local time.
Following Ricciardo on the timesheets was GP2 driver Oliver Turvey in the McLaren and Portuguese driver Antonio Félix da Costa in the Force India, who impressively bettered the benchmark time posted earlier in the day by the team’s usual test driver, Paul di Resta.
Sauber’s newly-signed development driver, the GP3 title winner Esteban Gutiérrez, was fourth-quickest, with less than a tenth of a second separating him from fifth-placed Dean Stoneman, the Formula 2 champion who was piloting a Williams.
World Series by Renault champion Mikhail Aleshin (who beat Ricciardo to the title this year) was quickest in the 1:42 bracket in the Renault, while British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne was next up in the Toro Rosso.
With Paul di Resta ending the day eighth-quickest, his running was limited to 10:30am before he handed over to Félix da Costa, and he was followed up by GP2 driver Sam Bird, who will be back in the Mercedes GP cockpit tomorrow.
Virgin Racing was another squad to run two drivers in today’s session, with its regular Friday pilot Jérôme d’Ambrosio continuing with more mileage in the VR-01.
GP2 champion – and the man rumoured to be Nico Hülkenberg’s replacement at Williams next year – was eleventh-fastest in the HRT, posting the most laps of any driver in the session with the equivalent of two race distances clocked up by the end of the day. The Venezuelan will switch to the Williams cockpit for tomorrow’s running, giving the squad plenty of opportunity to evaluate its prospective employee.
Ferrari found itself well down the order with GP3 driver Jules Bianchi at the wheel, but the team was concentrating mostly on development work as it tried out parts for its 2011 chassis, and he was followed by Rodolfo González in the Lotus.
Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto rounded out the timesheets in the Virgin Cosworth, with the 17-year-old the youngest in the inexperienced field.
Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test – Day 1 Session Times:
[Original images via GP Update]