Formula 1 News

Vergne keeps leading the Young Driver test

The Frenchman could not improve his best time from the day before, but he is looking with each day more like a Formula driver.
Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 16, 2011 (F1plus Team).- Jean-Éric Vergne and Red Bull again topped the timesheets as Young Driver testing resumed in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The Frenchman, who could not improve his time of 24 hours earlier, again led the way from Ferrari’s Jules Bianchi as no less than four drivers enjoyed their maiden outings in a Formula 1 car.

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Vergne's best time of 1:40.118 was just over a tenth shy of his effort on day one and only 0.091s faster than Jules Bianchi in the Ferrari who set a 1:40.279 to go second. Gary Paffett was third fastest in the McLaren, albeit 1.568s off Vergne's pace.

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Vergne set his fastest time in the morning after losing some track time with a sensor problem on the RB7 and completed just 43 laps when a KERS issue limited running in the afternoon. Bianchi set his best time in the afternoon session while he was working on a tyre-evaluation programme, having spent the morning analysing new concepts for next year's Ferrari.

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Paffett, who shared the McLaren with Oliver Turvey on Tuesday but had it all to himself on Wednesday, stopped on track towards the end of the morning session, bringing out a red flag. The session was also stopped in the afternoon to clear some debris, before a final red flag in the final hour. A stray cat broke onto the circuit in the morning but was swiftly dealt with by the marshals, preventing the need for another stoppage.

Valtteri Bottas impressed with the fourth fastest time in the Williams - again running a 2012-spec exhaust - with a 1:42.367. The Finn thanked the team over the radio before rushing off to the airport to catch a flight to Macau where he is taking part in the famous Formula 3 race this weekend.

Johnny Cecotto Jr., son of ex motorcycling star and namesake, entered the top five for Force India as 2010 GP3 Champion Esteban Gutiérrez began the first of his two full days at Sauber. Cecotto Jr. set the fifth fastest time in the Force India after taking over from Max Chilton who was in the car on Tuesday.

Esteban Gutierrez was another new face on Wednesday as he took command of the Sauber and set the sixth fastest time ahead of Sam Bird, who spent his second day at the wheel of the Mercedes. Kevin Korjus was eight fastest in the Renault, which was driven by Robert Wickens on Tuesday, ahead of Luiz Razia who got his first run in the Lotus. Kevin Ceccon rounded out the top ten in the Toro Rosso as Stefano Coletti watched on from the garage.

Jan Charouz was eleventh fastest in the HRT after completing the lion's share of the team's running. Nathanael Berthon completed just nine laps in the F111 and was 13th behind Charles Pic in the Virgin. Pic's test this week carries extra significance as he has been strongly linked to a race drive at Virgin next year.

See bellow the unofficial session times:

.1. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Red Bull-Renault 1:40.188
.2. Jules Bianchi (FRA) Ferrari 1:40.279
.3. Gary Paffett (GBR) McLaren-Mercedes 1:41.756
.4. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams-Cosworth 1:42.367
.5. Johnny Cecotto Jr (VEN) Force India-Mercedes 1:42.873
.6. Esteban Gutiérrez (MEX) Sauber-Ferrari 1:43.637
.7. Sam Bird (GBR) Mercedes GP 1:43.734
.8. Kevin Korjus (EST) Renault 1:43.776
.9. Luiz Razia (POR) Lotus-Renault 1:43.944
.10. Kevin Ceccon (ITA) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:44.808
.11. Jan Charouz (CZE) HRT-Cosworth 1:46.644
.12. Charles Pic (FRA) Virgin-Cosworth 1:46.698
.13. Nathanael Berthon (FRA) HRT-Cosworth 1:48.646

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