Analysis: Who stood out in Silverstone young driver test?
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jul 2013   |  11:45 am GMT  |  206 comments

Now the dust has settled on the Young Driver Test at Silverstone, we can analyse who performed well and look at some of the drivers for whom this was a vital audition, like Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull. We can also look at some of the tyre test runs carried out by the experienced race drivers to see what the new generation Pirellis will be like for the rest of the season.

With the help and input of JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan, former chief operations engineer at Williams, we will look in detail at Kevin Magnussen’s run in the McLaren; Daniel Ricciardo’s run in the Red Bull and Susie Wolff’s run in the Williams in particular.

It is important to note that it is hard to draw too many comparisons from this test, as there are too many variables. With young drivers testing cars with various development parts on them, while experienced drivers were forced to tyre test only with no technical trickery, so you cannot compare them.

What you can look at, and what the teams will be looking at, is the consistency of the runs and the way the traces of lap time graphs are shaped. The rough rule of thumb is that a nice consistent line, gently descending, shows good consistency and minimum tyre degradation.

Explanatory note – To read these charts, the vertical axis is the lap time, the higher up the slower the lap time, the lower down the faster. The horizontal axis is the number of laps carried out. The early runs are on the left, the later ones on the right. A good long run is one where the lap times show a consistent grouping with a downward trend from left to right.

Magnussen – impressive consistency
Perhaps the standout performance of the test was young Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren on Day 1. The 21 year old has had limited experience in F1, but put in a performance that he and the engineers will be delighted with.

He was sent out with a lot of fuel in the car, but his runs (shown in blue below in Fig 1 below) show highly impressive consistency. If you compare the time delta between the high fuel runs, (shown on the left, the lap times are higher, reflecting the extra weight of the fuel in the car) with the lower fuel runs, on the right, you can see that the difference is what it should be – so he has been able to take the maximum from both the higher and the lower fuel load and has been able to string together laps very consistently in both conditions, with a nice downward trend on both long and short runs.

“If I was on the technical team at McLaren I would be very impressed and very happy with this run,” says Gillan. “It’s a very impressive run for a young man who has limited F1 experience.”

Fig 1

Daniel Ricciardo’s audition for Red Bull

All eyes were on Daniel Ricciardo on Day 2, as he went out and drove his audition for his big career break; a possible promotion to the Red Bull seat, due to be vacated by Mark Webber. Ricciardo is a known quantity to Red Bull, of course, because they have access to all the data from their junior team, Toro Rosso, for whom Ricciardo has raced for a season and a half. He also drove for Red Bull during the Young Driver tests before he made his Grand Prix debut in 2011 with HRT.

But this was an important occasion for the Australian as he battles with Kimi Raikkonen for the drive. Raikkonen is a known quantity, a very fast and consistent race driver who has competed for the world championship for the last two seasons and is on a record run of consecutive points finishes.

On paper Red Bull would be wanting to put the best available driver in Webber’s seat, which on the face of it is Raikkonen. So Ricciardo had to show on Thursday that he has the consistency at a high level and shows potential to be something special for the future, with Vettel only contracted for two more seasons to the team and his intentions unclear beyond that.

He needed to show Red Bull management that taking him is not the risk it appears to be in comparison with the known quantity (albeit far more expensive in wages) that is Raikkonen.

As you can see in Fig 2 below, Ricciardo did a good job in terms of consistency. His Toro Rosso runs (in Red) appear to have been done with lower fuel than the Red Bull runs, (the lap times are lower) probably around 50kg in the Toro Rosso. He was sent out with high fuel only in the Red Bull (hence the slower lap times shown on the vertical axis) but the downward trend in his last run is really nice, with the lap times coming down in line with the fuel burning off. The run shows little tyre degradation so he is managing the tyre as well. Compare this with Maldonado’s final run in Fig 1 in the Williams (shown in green) which shows significant degradation at the end of the run.

Fig 2

Ricciardo’s final run then is very strong and that will be the card he left on the table with Red Bull engineers from this week’s test. They will be reasonably impressed. Only they know how much fuel was in the car, so how outright fast he was. That is not possible for us to say here. If he was on the same fuel as Vettel the next day (Fig 3 below) then he looks slightly slower, but it’s not possible for us to say definitively.

Added to that is his strong qualifying performance in the last few Grands Prix for Toro Rosso, where he has been solidly among the front runners.

He’s giving it his best shot.

Susie Wolff – a competent job

Susie Wolff set a fastest lap 0.4s slower than Daniel Juncadella, the Euro F3 champion, but felt that her five lap run on the faster medium tyres had come too early in the day for her to push to the maximum. She completed almost 90 laps in total and the performance run came on lap 34.

She covered a lot of laps (89 is a more than a race distance and a half), but she didn’t string runs together like Magnussen or Ricciardo. So we cannot look at patterns. She improved in the morning (her runs are shown in dark blue in Fig 3), but there are no long runs to draw conclusions from. She didn’t go off the track and did a solid job, which allows her to speak more knowledgeably about the sport as as development driver in PR appearances and media commitments. She will no doubt push for more opportunities to drive the car and it will be interesting if she gets the chance, with increased testing next season, to see if she attacks it with more confidence next time.

Fig 3

“It was important for me to show I have the performance, it was important to show, given the limited laps I had, I can be on the pace,” Wolff told BBC Sport Online.

“I was only 0.4 secs off the F3 European champion, the guy who’s rated as an up-and-coming young star. For me that was important. If that has more meaning for other people because I am female, then I will use that to my advantage but I’m not going to play the card ‘I’m a girl so give me the car I’m fast enough’.”

Other performances
Carlos Sainz Jr was given plenty of opportunity to run and to showcase his speed on his first ever outing in an F1 with two days in both the Toro Rosso and Red Bull cars. The 18 year old did a 1m 33.061s on the fifth lap of a five lap run on medium tyres in the Toro Rosso on Thursday and a 1m 33.546 on the first lap of a six lap run in the Red Bull with hard tyres on the Friday. His father was delighted with his performance and Red Bull engineers will know how much fuel he had in the car on those runs. He seems to have done quite well.

New generation Pirellis – a more stable race tyre

The runs of Di Resta (Fig 1), Vettel and Sutil (Fig 3) show that the new generation Pirelli tyres, with 2012 constructions married to 2013 compounds are not only safer (no failures in hotter conditions at Silverstone than for the GP) but also more consistent with less degradation. The rest of the season should therefore see the teams doing fewer pitstops than in the early part of the season (Barcelona would be a 2/3 stop race, for example, rather than the four stopper it was) and the drivers will be able to push harder for longer.

There do not appear to have been any surprises on the tyres and therefore there doesn’t appear to be any reason to suspect a major change in the pecking order. The teams that look after their tyres better will continue to do so (look at the impressive final run of Sutil, for example (Fig 3).

But it is going to be hard for any team or driver to catch Vettel and Red Bull for the remainder of the season, as these tyres certainly will not constrict them and they will be able to get the most from the car at every round from now on. It comes down to whether any other team wants to allocate the money and valuable wind tunnel time away from their 2014 development work to have a crack at them this season.

Red Bull have a healthy margin and can thus manage the situation from here.

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Clearly Riccardo is not great – at the 40 GP mark, the Greats had already won several races (even without the best car) – Riccardo in contrast has not finished top 6 even ONCE – that means under the old points system he would be yet to score a single point after 40GP – what the hell has happened to F1 where such mediocrity is rewarded by serious talk of getting the best car in F1? It’s completely upside down – and for me is the final straw in F1’s relentless demise over the past 20 years. It’s over – RIP F1 – I will remember you how you once were.


Something fishy is going on – Ricciardo has the WORST record of the 4 recent STR drivers;

Alguesari (age 23): 46 GP – 31 points

Buemi (age 24): 55 GP, 29 points

Vergne (age 23): 30 GP, 29 points

Riccardo (age 24): 41 GP, 21 points

His rookie team mate scored more points in 2012 and is again ahead of him in 2013.

Yet Riccardo is the only one being seriously talked about for the Red Bull seat? WTF?!!

Must be a bribe behind the scenes from his backers (probably corporate money from western australia)


I used to go to the official F1 site, or the Beeb for information on F1, but now I just come here, this is the best site!!


Great analysis, always love to read your articles James. Quite a lot of speculation on the RBR seat, hoping it goes to Daniel as it makes a good business case for RBR. Kimi is getting towards the end of his career so does not make much sense in going down this road. I remember the Abu Dhabi test where Daniel drove Vettel’s car and beat his fastest time by half a second. Albeit on a track that was not green but still very good.


Interesting info from Pirelli’s website on the YDT.

Ricciardo’s fastest time in the STR came on used mediums. Sainz’s was on new softs.

Ricciardo’s fastest time in the RB was on new hards. Vettel’s was on new mediums.

Obviously don’t know the relative fuel loads, but Dan comes out of that looking pretty handy.


hey where is that guy ravi now lol he should read this lol. alot of people n this site were bagging dan. shows how much they dont know about f1


Is there anywhere we can get the times for all the laps each driver completed?

Interesting that Ricciardo set his quickest time in the RBR on Hard tyres, where as Vettel set his on the Medium tyre. Is there 3 tenths worth between the Medium and Hard tyres?

If they were running the same setups I’d say that Ricciardo had the edge over Vettel as far as short-run pace and consistency goes.


JA. First of all i’d like like to pay tribute to thos website. The best when it comes to F1. This article was about the young drivers test and not about who is going to get the available seat in RBR next year, but discussions here is all about that. My question is about something else. How do you see Kevin Magnussen’ s chance of getting a seat in F1 next year? He seems to have the pace and talent, but he probably has a problem with lacking sponsorship. And as a Dane that is very frustrating seeing very talented drivers not making it to F1 because of money. Is all down to money now a days?


If he carries on like this next year – when there are 4x2day tests, he will be in F1.

Good timing on his part – as test opportunities come along



Is there likely to be some reservation about Magnussen after his fathers brief account in F1? He was hailed as greater than Senna (if you believed Jackie Stewart) yet heard stories that he smoked and generally didn’t apply himself enough.

Also, what of the times of James Calado? I rate him highly, even if his GP2 season isn’t going as well as he might have hoped.


One needs to give Frijns a race seat. Most talented Dutch single seater driver at the moment by far (new talent is coming though, Max Verstappen and Nick de Vries). But it’s quite obvious he’s very talented.. just look at statistics alone. Problem is he has no money. But hopefully Sauber will give him a slot next year, as I don’t see both Hulkenberg and Gutierrez driving for Sauber next year and they’ll probably have some Russian taking one of the seats.

As far as Kimi / Red Bull goes.. my prediction is Kimi stays with Lotus, Ricciardo to RB, then da Costa and Sainz Jr. at TR (Verge out for 2014).


James, with your connections to Ferrari, can you please say if there is anything to read in Kobayashi’s promotional work with the team. From my perspective, they’ve got two proven official test drivers, they still have association with Fisichella yet they decide to run Kobayashi in Moscow. It’s a bit strange… Unless they know something that general public does not, which is not impossible considering he raced with Ferrari engines over the last three years in Sauber – so plenty of data.


They have various people under contract

I don’t see KOB getting Massa’s seat if that’s what you mean


I have to agree with this. Hulkenburg or massa for the 2nd Ferrari in 2014.


Seems like everyone (including me) wants Kimi in RB. I want him there now because he is fast and deserved the fastest car and the best team.

Christian horner has many more items to weigh up. Such as the potential of Ricciardo improving, possibly a more harmonious drivers relationship and budget.

Kimi also needs to wait and see which team has the best chance for winning the 2014 champion. Remember, he was offered a good price at Williams but he chose Lotus-Renault because that team has the budget and ability to win.

I personally do not expect Red Bull to dominate next year but they might be close to it. Renault actually have a very good chance as history have shown that they always makes the best F1 engines and scored more championship than any other manufacturers in recent times. Plus, that team is the same team that is responsible for all of Alonso’s WDC and two of Schumacher’s WDC. So don’t underestimate Lotus!


I went to Silverstone to watch the test, and I had my Camera setup at the twisty bit before the pit straight.

Its pretty trick to catch an f1 car well on camera, so pointed it the apex, and most cars hit every time, so I didn’t have to move the camera. If they missed the apex though, I didn’t get the shot.

One driver who consistently missed the apex was Daniel, he locked up, or just overshot the apex everytime, and not just by a little. I’m guessing the Redbull doesn’t stop as well as his Toro Rosso.


I went to Silverstone and thought I should think about things,sic

If (he consistently missed the apex all the time, locked up or overshot your words,)

How do you explain the consistency in his times then or his time being 0.078 sec slower than the fastest time for entire test.


Just saying what I saw, or took photos of. I got lots of good pics, but to move the camera to catch him in the end. I like Daniel , just say what I shot, so chill please.


Well his times certainly don’t reflect this. You must have been watching Vergne.


Yet his times seemed still pretty decent, imagine when he gets use to the Red Bull and hits it every time 😉


James, surely Daniel has to get the Red Bull seat, just to get him out of that Toro Rosso hat!


The irony is that 5 years ago, if there had been a “showdown” for a top seat between Kimi and Vettel, the overwhelming majority would have said that Vettel was an unproven talent and Kimi should get the drive, but now, because Vettel has made the most of his opportunites in a top car over several years, Vettel is now a top contender and is massively more “successful” than Kimi has been.

Despite the fact that Kimi is a “known qty” in regards to always being pretty quick regardless, you can’t really compare the two drivers without them driving the same car, ie Ricci has dragged the TR car above Lotus cars several times and its impossible to know what Kimi could have done in the same equipment. Might have done better, might have done worse.

My point is that Ricci could well be a multiple WC in a few years time if given the RB drive and he is young enough to be a long term team leader in the years ahead…


I dont think Ricciardo should be selling himself on the fact that he’s cheaper than Raikkonen. RBR are’nt exactly a budget team, which means regardless of the price they want the best racer.

I think it could be any of them who get the drive, but I think if I was Kimi I would be tempted to stay at Lotus.

With their recent sponsorship deals who knows how well they could improve for 2014.


good analysis all round but could the comparison between maldonado’s runs and those of ricciardo fair considering ricciardo was in a car he wasn’t used to while maldonado in his car? could ricciardo a performance due to the fact that his confidence increased each lap and he breaked or turned the car later and later?

i’d love kimi in the red bull but ricciardo wouldn’t disappoint australian side.


I agree, excellent analysis. But James, could you make the charts clickable?


Well, I would simply want KIMI in a redbull – He had his first sponsor as REDBULL in F1 and I hope that he might end it there. Moreever I believe REDBULL has been with him for quite sometime.

Some people were talking about 16-18 Million Euros/ year for KIMI but just look at the amount of money or revenue he can bring back to REDBULL and the team and y the end of the year I do feel that the amount spent on KIMI would be benefical for both the team in terms of points – WCC/WDC and revenue as well.

KIMI is my choice at REDBULL, if I was Dietrich, no questions asked


Good article.

Wouldnt it be great if Red Bull threw a curve ball and hired neither…Still out of the 2 I think you have to get Ricciardo.

Kimi is just too old now and whilst he is the faster driver Ricciardo has future potential and that is worth alot.

Wolf wont get in F1 now because she is too old. If she was in her 20s and doing those decent (but not exceptional) laptimes she might have had a shot.

Its sad because shes obviously a good driver but hopefully she can make it easier for another female to get there shot.

(And food for thought think of the publicity and fans the team that takes the dip will get)


Give RIC another year at STR to prove his ability with turbo / hybrid cars – up the pressure / expectations and see what happens. After another year (or two) it will be obvious if he’s going to be the genuine contender that RBR want.

Flick JEV in favour of another junior, if for no other reason than it seems JEV is less preferred at the moment – he didn’t get the chance to pedal the RB9 last week for a reason. If STR is RBR’s talent search engine then it should be used as such – Next!

Give RAI a one-year RBR contract with a one-year option (both sides). Who knows how he’ll react in the RBR environment / demands? I don’t think his skills or desire are an issue. How ‘comfortable’ he is critical.

VET’s longer-term intentions would be perhaps better understood after another year.

Doing the above gives RBR a great shot at winning the WCC / WDC next year in what will be a bit of a raffle given the scope of the rule changes.

Beyond that, buying themselves a bit of time by kinda fudging 2014 as above may be enough to give RBR a clearer view of the driver strategy for 2016 onwards.

VET/RBR is an extraordinary coupling. Once it is broken we should see who brought most to the partnership by their results after breaking up. Or perhaps the partnership itself is the key and neither will enjoy the same success once they go their separate ways.


The tyres are more consistent now whcih is good but I am afraid that with the conservative choices Pirelli have made for the next few races we might be back to 1 stop races? Can this be altered at all?

Tornillo Amarillo

Good to see a MAGNUM in F1! He could be a great gun for McLaren.

BRAVO for Pirelli, we breathe.

Red Bull IMHO:

1. if money is the point, Kimi will be there in 2014

2. if PR job or whatever is a deal-breaker for Kimi and he decides to stay at Lotus, then Ricciardo will be there in 2014 evidently

3. and SAINZ to Toro Rosso asap

Vettel: Mercedes can catch him… Maybe Ferrari too, and Lotus, but with team orders.

Tornillo Amarillo

I explain myself: Mercedes do poles, stay ahead with the new Pirellis, and “team orders” or agreement made between HAMILTON and ROSBERG after SPA…


Daniel was close to Vettel and Webber’s lap times in his first YDTs before he got his first race seat. He has been consistently exceptional over a lap. All the fanboy mugs that never get impressed by drivers in bad cars will keep being the mugs that they are and call Kimi a big step up. Both Kimi (post Montoya years) and Daniel are measured drivers, probably the most alike in the whole F1 field. Most of the drivers are exceptional but Daniel has had that something 0.5% extra in speed across 3 different cars and the big variations in tyres over the 3 years. Daniel’s issue has been questions over his race craft and mongrel. He has been dealing with those issues this year. In his defence he has been at his most accommodating when the RBR guys are at close hand and that is when he has been shunted down after achieving high qualifying positions. What would you do with Marko around? Even when Vettel plainly caused an incident with Daniel he gets torched and no support from Marko. He has no plan B, no budget, just Marko and the Australian GP who cut their 2014 GP advertising images over from Webber to Ricciardo a month before Mark’s annoucnement. This year Daniel has been tougher, he still has to deal with the counter strategy they run for Vergne generally being a better one for the Torro Rosso than his allowed strategy on less tyres but he has been getting over this better than in 2012. Vergne is better on intermediates for speed in both qualifying and race, but if you take that out (which has given Vergne his main claims to be on terms with Daniel, then Daniel is consistently better in qualifying and they are close on race pace with only the engineers probably knowing on the latter. Vergne also appears to be a future top driver so I doubt he will get dropped by TR next year even if (and likely moreso due the development issues when they dumped Buemi and Algeurseri together) if Daniel goes up. He also has more chance at picking up EU sponsors with the big cash to get him a seat outside the RB framework than Daniel who would likely be toast with the small amounts he could muster from Australia.

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