Valtteri Bottas was comfortably fastest at the Silverstone 'Young Driver' test

Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas has comfortably topped the timesheets on the first day of the two-day ‘Young Driver’ test session at Silverstone. The Finn’s fastest lap – a 1:31.436 – was some three seconds quicker than the fastest lap of the race at last weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Of course, not much should be read into the lap times, with the three attending teams – Williams, Marussia and HRTF1 – free to run whatever fuel loads and car weights they want during the test, which was conducted in mostly clear conditions at the Northamptonshire circuit. Late rain fell on the circuit during the final hours of the session.

The fine weather allowed for all three outfits to complete plenty of on-track mileage. Bottas concentrated on short runs in the morning before conducting a race simulation in the afternoon.

Bottas obviously had the benefit of much more competitive equipment at his disposal, with his fastest lap time over five seconds quicker than the second-fastest effort, which came from Carlin GP2 driver Max Chilton in the Marussia F1 entry.

Max Chilton was a distant second-quickest The Englishman – brother of AON Ford World Touring Car Championship driver Tom Chilton – ran in the morning before handing over his car to Carlin team-mate Rio Haryanto.

The Indonesian driver’s best time was some eight-tenths slower than Chilton’s, but his running was also delayed when Chilton’s session was stopped by a mechanical issue, which needed to be resolved in the interim.

Qing Hua was slowest of the runners, and appeared to be struggling with the G-forces Slowest of the runners was HRTF1 development driver Ma Qing Hua, who made history by becoming the first Chinese driver to compete in an official Formula 1 test session.

The Shanghai-born driver performed a mix of shorter and longer stints in the F112, clocking up an impressive tally of 82 laps and finishing up just four-tenths slower than Haryanto, a driver with far more experience in open-wheeler racing.

The Spanish team announced at the conclusion of the test that it would wrap up proceedings a day early to prepare for next weekend’s German Grand Prix.

With tomorrow being the second and final day of the test, that leaves Williams and Marussia as the sole runners in this shortened ‘Young Driver’ test. The field’s remaining nine teams will head to Abu Dhabi later in the year to conduct a four-day test session.

2012 Silverstone ‘Young Driver’ Test – Day 1 Test Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW34 1:31.436   120
2. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:36.558 + 5.122 34
3. Rio Haryanto INA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:37.404 + 5.968 19
4. Ma Qing Hua CHN HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:37.829 + 6.393 82

A double-billing of F1 and V8s at Abu Dhabi!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.