Fresh faced drivers are getting their chance to drive current F1 cars this week at the Abu Dhabi Young Guns test, with one driver as young as 18 out on track.
However Jean Eric Vergne continued to set the headline lap times in the Young Guns test at Abu Dhabi after two days of running.
The Frenchman has picked up where Dan Ricciardo left off in last year’s test in the Red Bull, setting the fastest time of the day ahead of Ferrari’s Jules Bianchi, who covered 91 laps today and McLaren’s evergreen Gary Paffett. Vergne only did 43 laps after he lost time today with sensor problems in the morning and a KERS problem in the afternoon.
These times do not compare with qualifying times from last weekend, which were a second and a half faster. Vergne set his time on the second lap of a five lap run in the morning, Bianchi did his time on the third lap of a four lap run in the afternoon.
There are a variety of names out on track which will be unfamiliar to fans who don’t follow the junior categories, as F1 teams give a run to a range of drivers from the most promising to those with £300,000 of budget to spend.
The drivers continue work on the prototype Pirelli tyres which are aimed at finalising their concepts for 2012, with a different profile of tyre and a more precise performance differential between two compounds at a race. THe tyres are generally moving a little softer than the 2011 models.
Today Pirelli confirmed that the puncture which sidelined Sebastian Vettel at the start of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi race was not caused by a tyre failure. A cut to the tyre from debris or a kerb looks the most likely cause.
Valtteri Bottas did 88 laps and set the fourth fastest time for Williams before dashing off to the airport to get to Hong Kong and from there to Macau where he will be out in an F1 car tomorrow to practice for the Macau Grand Prix, which takes place this weekend.
Sauber’s 20 year old Mexican protege Estaban Gutierrez (pictured top) also had his first run in an F1 car for a year, setting the sixth fastest time.
While the youngest out there today was 18 year old Kevin Korjus, from Estonia, who drove 77 laps in the Renault. He has been signed up by Gravity Management, which is owned by the team’s owners Genii and overseen by Eric Boullier. Korjus was in karts only three years ago and won last year’s Formula Renault title.
YOUNG GUNS TEST, Yas Marina Circuit
1. Jean-Eric Vergne Red Bull 1m40.188s
2. Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1m40.279s + 0.091
3. Gary Paffett McLaren 1m41.756s + 1.568
4. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m42.367s + 2.179
5. Johnny Cecotto Jr Force India 1m42.873s + 2.685
6. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m43.637s + 3.449
7. Sam Bird Mercedes 1m43.734s + 3.546
8. Kevin Korjus Renault 1m43.776s + 3.588
9. Luiz Razia Lotus 1m43.944s + 3.756
10. Kevin Ceccon Toro Rosso 1m44.808s + 4.620
11. Jan Charouz HRT 1m46.644s + 6.456
12. Charles Pic Virgin 1m46.698s + 6.510
13. Nathanael Berthon HRT 1m48.646s + 8.458