Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel ended the Silverstone test with the fastest time on the final day, as the three days came to a close.
Vettel was the only one of the leading title contenders to take advantage of the opportunity to evaluate the new specification Pirelli tyres, which will now be used for the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.
Vettel’s title rivals Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen decided not to take part in the test as the FIA ruled that the race drivers were not allowed to do any development or set up work in their allotted time.
Both felt that it was a waste of their time to take part, but Vettel took the opportunity to do a race distance and a third – 79 laps – to learn about their characteristics.
As it was a Young Drivers’ test, to which an added component of tyre evaluation was added after the tyre failures at the recent British Grand Prix, the FIA wanted to keep the race drivers to a strict regime.
Mercedes was not allowed to attend the test, as part of its punishment for breaching the Sporting Regulations with its 1,000km test in May. Teams this week at Silverstone covered between 30% and 50% more distance than that and were allowed to test development parts when a Young Driver was in the car.
For example, Lotus today ran new aerodynamic parts to help get the most performance from the new specification tyres as well as a new exhaust, as it pushes ahead with development in its quest for title success in 2013.
There was no repeat of the spectacular failures of last month; Force India’s Adrian Sutil gave the new tyres, which are based on 2012 constructions with 2013 compounds, the thumbs up,
“It was interesting to see how the new tyres react,” he said. “They are a bit easier to handle so the drop-off won’t be as dramatic as we saw in a few races.”
Vettel added, “Obviously, we were very limited on what we could do, but for me there is not that much difference with the tyres. It was good to get in some laps though, good to get a feeling for them and it’s always nice to drive at Silverstone.
“We had three days, different drivers in all the different cars and no (tyre) failure. That’s good – in conditions that were probably worse than at the Grand Prix – even hotter, asphalt temperature was even higher.”
The test has seen some exciting names for the future get a chance to test F1 machinery, names that we are likely to see come into the sport over the next few years; among them Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Da Costa, Daniil Kvyat and James Calado.
Williams’ Susie Wolff got her chance to drive an F1 car alongside male colleagues today, the first time a woman has done that for 20 years. She covered 89 laps and set the 9th fastest time of the day, on the second lap of a five lap run on medium tyres.
“It was fantastic today,” said Wolff. “The team did a great job getting me through the day, talking me through everything step by step. In hindsight it would have been good to run the new tyres later in the day after I’d had more time in the car as I don’t think I got the best out of the medium tyres.
“Physically it wasn’t easy, but it was what I was expecting. I was well prepared so it was completely manageable. My only problem was my seat as I was moving around a little. Doing the pitstops this afternoon was also really beneficial as there is a lot to think about coming into the stops. It was a fantastic experience.”
Analysis of her performance and that of Red Bull Racing audition Daniel Ricciardo will follow.
SILVERSTONE YOUNG DRIVERS’ TEST, Day 3
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m32.894s 79
2. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m33.242s +0.348s 99
3. Nicolas Prost Lotus 1m33.256s +0.362s 83
4. Carlos Sainz Jr Red Bull 1m33.546s +0.652s 35
5. Davide Rigon Ferrari 1m33.592s +0.698s 20
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.624s +0.730s 69
7. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m33.647s +0.753s 42
8. Gary Paffett McLaren 1m34.294s +1.400s 77
9. Susie Wolff Williams 1m35.093s +2.199s 89
10. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m35.155s +2.261s 85
11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m35.281s +2.387s 22
12. Charles Pic Caterham 1m35.576s +2.682s 60
13. Kimiya Sato Sauber 1m35.642s +2.748s 67
14. Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia 1m36.339s +3.445s 24
15. James Calado Force India 1m36.451s +3.557s 5
16. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m36.744s +3.850s 39