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Young Guns test Day 2: Vergne sets the pace
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Nov 2011   |  3:30 pm GMT  |  43 comments

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

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You cannot compare the lap times, JEV was going to be faster than Alguersuari at abu dhabi if he didn’t have traffic a the end of his lap, here you can compare but not on these sort of test. JEV has shown that he was faster than ricciardo in 3.5, i reaaly do think that he is the next big f1 talent that france needs. Can you imagine that for his first attempt in a f1 week end, he was going to be faster than his team-mate, plus JEV is more a racer driver than a qualy driver. And if he didnt win the 3.5 it’s because all these pit stop that his team failled, there are at least 3 of them, and Red Bull themself complain about it. For Marko JEV is the best driver from the four (buemi, alguer, ricciardo). If he makes a good season with STR, im sure he will be at Red Bull in 2013.


Jean Eric Vergne is very impressive aboard the RB7, ilconfirmr all the good he thinks Red Bull Racing with his times in these days of testing. I wonder, still, if these tests will yield a driving Toro Rosso during the 2012 season. In any case, I think it has a place in F1 :


It seems it’s hard to not be impressive driving that car.

You start to wonder is Vettel really as good as that car and Webber’s tyre struggles made him look this year. Could say a Nico Rosberg looked as good? nevermind Alonso or Hamilton?


I’m clearly getting old as in that picture Estaban Gutierrez looks like he should still be on his BMX doing his paper round not driving an F1 car! Having said that I’m not even 10 years older than Gary Paffett…..

F1 has always taken pay drivers but it does seem to be getting worse and does devalue it in my humble opinion. Especially with many of the teams not being able to develop their cars much even with pay drivers.


James, are any of the young guns graduates of the FIA Driver’s Academy run by Alex Wurz? Just wondering how those lads were progressing?


Alex Rossi is a graduate, running this week for Team Lotus


this isnt really a ‘young guns’ test is it, gary paffet is like 30 years old and is a professional tester. Jules bIanchi has also been testing with ferrari for the past two years. James will one hd have the gp’s next year, if not foxsports (australia)??, BRING BACK KIMI

Jonathan De Andrade

Hi James, totally off topic, but in the Brazilian Media today it says Rubens may be negotiating with Renault. What are your views on that? I think it makes sense if Renault can afford Rubens. On top of that I would not consider Rubens is asking a lot of money and there is no much experienced drives, capable of pushing a car development, available at moment. My call is that Rubens would do no warm to Renault. anyone?


I think Renault will run Petrov and Grosjean next year.

Jonathan De Andrade

Thanks James! that is frustrating. By having two inexperienced drivers in the lineup means that probably Renault will stand still and might even fall behind, more than it has fallen this year … I thought they should at least have someone to push the car development…


James, it seems that everybody in the know is saying it’s going to be Petrov and Grosjean next year but with Petrov severely criticizing his team on Russian TV at weekend do you think he would only have done that because he already knows he isn’t in the Renault for next year?

Here is link to interview and English version, can delete if isn’t allowed here


We say that because the team says it and he has a contract. Not sure what his other options are


I see some reports doing rounds about a possible offer for Timo Glock for 2012 from Renault. I, for one, will be happy to someone of higher caliber than Petrov for sure.


I really enjoy the young drivers tests. As try as I might I have a busy life and do not have time to keep updated with what is going on in the junior formulas outwith GP2 and even then I only know the names from their associations with F1 teams.

It would be wonderful if Sky could show the warm up races on the F1 Calendar as part of their pre show package.

I feel some people are to hard on the pay drivers of this generation. Unless you are cherry picked at a young age like Vettel and Hamilton were then it is near impossible to break into F1 without money. Mark Webber has had a sterling F1 career but would he have got his break in a Minardi if their owner had not been an Aussie? You have to get to F1 by whatever possible. Even winning GP2 is not enough these days.

It also seems some people do not like F1 being a global sport. Would GP2 Champion Maldanado whose first name it seems on the BBC is Pay Driver tarred with such a brush if he was British or Italian?

I believe the likes of HRT, Force India and Williams who all have financial problems all add to the excitement of F1. Outwith Hamilton who was the last rookie that was given a race winning car in his first year?

If running a few pay drivers all of whom have a decent pedigree in a few non F1 weekends helps ensure they pay the bills and make the grid for next year then so be it.


On a Ricciardo/ Vergne comparison, Vergne seems to me to be slower. Last year because the track rubbered in more Ricciardo went 1.5s faster than Vettel. This time, Vergne, even with more rubber on the track, he is over 1.5s slower than Vettel.

I know there are lots of variables, but based on this and the job Ricciardo has done on Liuzzi Ricciardo surely has to replace Buemi at Torro Rosso this year and potentially Webber at RBR in a years time.


My initial reaction to the times was that JuB (JB is Button!) in a Ferrari was so close to JEV in a RB compared to the quali times offset. is this new Pirelli rubber not suiting the 2011 RB or is JEV still learning to push the boundaries of the car – i.e. when not in a simulator? He did beat two experienced test drivers so I wouldnt totally agree that they are worse than last year by 1.5sec.


Don’t forget that the tyres are different. You can only compare drivers in similar conditions. But yes, the times don’t seem to be as good.


All these pay drivers being given a rare chance to test is getting ridiculous and devaluing the perceived skill of F1 race and test drivers. I was interested to hear comments from a driver at Macau speaking out against all these well financed, but not the finest, testers.

Granted a few of them deserve a chance, certainly JEV, but it’s a shame that teams don’t invest more of their own money in junior drivers. When you consider how much added value a Hamilton or Vettel bring to their teams in lap time, (let alone the marketing value) that would otherwise cost £m’s in technical development with just a regular nut holding the wheel, it makes the investment in their junior career look like money well spent.

I think a lot of these teams are just taking the quick cash on offer.


It being labeled a “young driver test” and with Gary Paffet being quite handy and experienced I take it Mclaren are using this more of a development test for 2012 not to assess young drivers?

What are the other teams thoughts about this?


James, I always wondered that if I won the lottery, if I stumped up £300K as a fortysomething year old man, would any team give me a test? Bit sad the ammount of money a young driver needs even to knock on the door of F1 regardlessm of talent at the moment.


Not sure it would be possible. You’d need a certain level of licence which can only be acquired through years of racing cars, and to a certain level and I think the teams will naturally put some form of limit on who tests their car.

If you were rich enough you can test an F1 car privately if you so wish. Plenty of older gentleman do it.

But to highlight your initial point – yes racing is a money game. Always has been, always will be.


Yes, James, what about that? I’m 61 and thinking of selling my house for a few hours in Lewis Hamilton’s car.


James, any news on Kimi? Will announcement come before Interlagos?


2012 gimmick Pirelli tyres = designed to halt RBR.

They already were busy with it since half 2011, suddenly the other teams wprking better with the tyres, except RBR…Spa being a climax where RBR said “screw you” to Pirelli, and now Vettel mysteriously flies off the track because aliens shot his tyre.

F1 is such a joke these days with all this almost communist way of thinking how everyone should be equal even though some just do a better job to raise above the others.

Similar things happened during the Ferrari domination.


That’s not what happened with the 2011 tyres at all. For the entire season, Ferrari have been the lightest on the tyres with Mclaren the hardest..RB are somewhere in between.


Valtteri Bottas will be driving an F3 car in Macau presumably, not an F1 car?

Speaking of which, does Merhi have a point about pay drivers in this test? Is that worse/getting worse now than it has been in the past?


Valtteri Bottas will indeed be racing in the SJM Formula 3 races in a Galaxy Macau sponsored Galaxy Double R Racing Dallara Mercedes, car number 26, which, if it’s any help, is nearly all black!


Considering some of the drivers that have been out there this week (Max Chilton, FFS) I think he does.


Is there any guide as to how closely in trim the cars run during these tests? If Bottas can drag the Williams up from Team Lotus pace to ahead of Sauber and Force India then Sir Frank should get him signed up ASAP!


Off Topic: James, do you have any idea at all why Whitmarsh continues to make comments like this to the media? What is it that he knows that we all do not about LH’s state of mind that makes him think this sort of press attention is a good thing? Each time this propmpts LH to publically disagree (because he has to really). What on earht is Whitmarsh thinking!!

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says Lewis Hamilton underestimated team-mate Jenson Button. “He probably did, yes,” Whitmarsh said. “Let’s be open about it. Lewis, throughout his career, has destroyed every team-mate that’s come his way. Bear in mind that in many ways he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso when Fernando was a two-time world champion and Lewis was a rookie. He did the same with Nico Rosberg in karting, frankly, and every other team-mate on his way into Formula 1. He was disarmed by Jenson at the beginning and he probably thought that he was a nice guy but he’d beat him. And he was probably surprised.”

Harrison Vrbanjac

Jenson beating Lewis is kind of hype. I’m not so impressed by Jenson. He has only 28 point lead over Hamilton that is having a disaster season. If he is so great he should lead by far more, look at Alonso and Vettel! And I’m tired over this “rainmaster” bulls****. If that was raining 20 races of 20 races I would bet my money on Lewis, Alonso and Vettel before Jenson in same car. Anybody beating against?


You know what I agree. We are comparing JB’s best ever season against LH’s worst ever season and they have noth won the same amount of races and the points difference is minimal. JB fans will, understandably, cry out when they read this but I happen to agree with your opinion – it just seems that everyone has decided it si the ‘politic’ thing to do to wax lyrical about JB and scandalise LH’s every move this year. I genuinely believe that ‘order’ between these two will be restored next year.


Yes, that’s the second time after the India comments about being beaten by JB.

I think he’s looking for a reaction from LH. He got one in Abu Dhabi (although he didn’t quite nail it in quali)

I’m sure he’ll get one in Brazil and over the winter.

Lewis will be the most motivated to win he’s ever been when he shows up in 2012, is MW’s hope


Thank you for taking the time to reply, your opinion is reassuring that there is indeed method in what looks like madness. I just hope that LH is strong enough mntally to be motivated rather then beseiged by these sort of comments. Feels like a gamble as LH seems quite fragile emotionally.


It’s diffucult to judge testing pace, almost impossible due to unknown fuel loads/engine mappings, did they use KERS/DRS on their fastest effort?.

More so these days the picture can be further clouded because the cars weight is usually different to race spec. Many teams add extra sensors and measuring devices such as pitot arrays and thermal imaging cameras. Mclaren and Red Bull have “the nose spider”, a device which measures the amount of flex in the front wing relative to aero load.

I’ve also heard of teams swapping out their race suspension for active suspension so they can rapidly test the effect of new parts at different ride heights and spring rates.

Having all this extra equipment has an effect on the stop watch and we end up non-the wiser. Still, if you see a Red Bull at the top of the time sheets it’s pretty genuine I guess.


Maldonado Abu Dhabi qual 1.41.760 [p17]

Bottas today’s test 1.42.367


Any chance Williams could be running Bottas light on fuel to make him look good to help in negotiations with Kimi.

Wasn’t Frank saying a couple of days ago how he wanted to see how Bottas looked. Could be just to make it look they have a really good prospect on their hands so Kimi’s management stop pushing so much on wage demands or equity demands.


They weren’t all doing low fuel qualifying style runs


Thanks, that is one problem with testing. If you watch the FP sessions online then you at least get a feeling for who is running what but during open testing when you just get a headline time it is very difficult to judge if someone has taken a big step or if they are just running a setup that isn’t typical…


“If you watch the FP sessions online”.

Stephen is talking about watching Free Practice, which is shown online on the bbc website (though I think this is UK only, sorry if you’re non-UK).



how/ where do u watch them online?????

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