Daniel Ricciardo has completed his blitz of the two-day Young Driver test session at Abu Dhabi, posting a fastest lap time some 1.3 seconds quicker than the pole position time managed by Sebastian Vettel at last weekend’s Grand Prix.
Piloting the same RB6 chassis driven to victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix by Mark Webber, the Australian driver was the pacesetter virtually throughout the day’s running, and only momentarily usurped by Mercedes GP runner Sam Bird when the Briton bettered his then-best time by five-thousandths of a second early in the afternoon.
But Ricciardo fought back to reclaim top honours with an hour’s running to go, and posting his fastest time shortly before the day’s running was curtailed when Yelmer Burrman’s Force India ground to a halt with 20 minutes to run.
That there was plenty of rubber laid down from five days’ running at the Yas Marina circuit will certainly go some way to supporting the competitive times posted by many of the rookie drivers this session, Ricciardo’s effort should not be discounted, given that it’s just his fourth outing in Formula 1 machinery.
The runner-up spot was claimed by Jérôme d’Ambrosio, who switched to the Renault car after driving in his usual Virgin Racing cockpit in yesterday’s opening test day. The Belgian suffered a spin early in the day, but recovered to clock his best lap in the dying minutes of the session.
Four-hundredths of a second slower than d’Ambrosio was Briton Sam Bird, who was participating in his second day’s running for Mercedes GP.
Next up was DTM championship contender Gary Paffett, who performed his first duties as McLaren’s reserve driver for the first time since February. Paffett lapped fractionally quicker than Ferrari’s representative, Jules Bianchi, who improved his best effort from the day before that was spent largely concentrating on development duties for the Scuderia.
Pastor Maldonado was another driver to be in a different cockpit on the second day of the test session, switching from Hispania Racing to Williams, which is rumoured to have signed the Venezuelan for next season. The GP2 champion’s best lap time was just 0.75 seconds slower than the fastest qualifying time managed by the team’s veteran driver Rubens Barrichello. The FW32 also sported a host of ugly aero sensors on the right-hand-side of the car.
British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne completed his second outing with Toro Rosso, but lost out on the opportunity to improve his lap time when the track was at its grippiest late in the afternoon, having to catch his flight to Macau for the blue-ribbon F3 event there this weekend.
Davide Valsecchi – winner of the sprint heat in the GP2 support race at the Abu Dhabi round – made an impressive debut with Hispania Racing, hauling the ill-handling F110 chassis around Yas Marina with a time some two seconds quicker than what Bruno Senna had managed in qualifying on Saturday, although he momentarily blotted his copybook with a spin earlier in the day.
Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test – Day 2 Session Times:
[Original images via GP Update]