Testing for up and coming young drivers continued Wednesday at Jerez with nine of the ten teams that took part in the 2009 season in action with Gary Paffett topping the timesheets with a best lap of 1:18.718s.
McLaren again ran the regular tester and DTM racer, focusing on
fuel load analysis ahead of the re-fuelling ban that comes into effect next year. The British racer completed 80 laps of the 4.423km Spanish test venue, his best lap coming on his 42nd tour of the day just ahead of a brief rain shower and was four-tenths quicker than Tuesday’s pace.
After topping the times with Formula Two champion Andy Soucek on Tuesday, Williams Toyota understandably opted to run new signing Nico Hulkenberg during the second day of the test. The German racer was second fastest, his time just a fraction slower than Soucek’s Tuesday best.
British F3 champion Daniel Ricciardo continued to test with Red Bull Renault, trimming three-tenths off his best time to date with the third fastest time.
“I found it a bit easier today,” admitted Ricciardo who conducted a varied programme including aerodynamic assessment and brake testing. “I knew what to expect this morning and the procedures were easier to understand, so I was able to concentrate on improving my driving and hopefully give my best in terms of providing the engineers with good feedback.”
Mercedes protégé Paul di Resta enjoyed his first full day of testing with Force India Mercedes. The Scot, fourth fastest, tested various development components on the VJM02 challenger. "We had quite a structured programme this morning of running back to back set-up for 2009 and 2010 and both long and short runs, but it went pretty well," he said. "I'm up to speed now and I understand what I can do to improve my own performance."
Esteban Gutierrez took over testing duties from Alexander Rossi at BMW Sauber; the 18-year old Mexican recorded the fifth best time, 1.5 seconds off the ultimate pace. The team lost a little time late in the day with a hydraulic leak, but Gutierrez was happy with his day behind the wheel.
“It was a very positive day for me,” he said. “The main idea was to live that experience, to enjoy the day and to learn. In the end, with the grip level getting higher, my neck was a bit stiff and it was good to evaluate my own physical condition. The extra training I did paid off.”
Mike Conway and Marcus Ericsson continued to test with Brawn Mercedes and proved relatively evenly matched with the sixth and seventh fastest times respectively ahead of J.R Hilderbrand. The American was eighth fastest in the second Force India, but was initially hampered by a brake setup issue before making progress as the day progressed.
"I was concerned I wouldn't be able to maximise the high speed cornering of the car, but I was able to get the most out of the two high speed sections so I was really happy with this progress," the Indy Lights star said. "On the run I got the best time we were running on a particularly conservative engine setting so I was pretty satisfied, even if the lap time didn't really show on the timesheets.
Jules Bianchi meanwhile who was back behind the wheel of the F60 for his second and final day of running. The Frenchman completed an impressive 113 laps as he acclimatised to F1 machinery.
“I know I wasn’t particularly quick, but running in race configuration meant I was able to learn a lot," the F3 Euroseries champion explained after lapping 1.9s off the pace of Paffett. "With the help of the team, I got to understand the car, especially its handling when running consistent lap times, which seemed really positive to me.”
Ho-Pin Tung and test regular Lucas di Grassi shared driving duties for Renault and set the tenth and 11th best times for the Anglo-French team.
“This was my first proper test in an F1 car and it was a great experience," said the former who will remain at the circuit for the final day to take part in team debriefs. "To begin with I concentrated on finding a reasonable set-up and then got down to working through the programme with the engineers as we tested some parts for the 2010 car."
Mirko Bortolotti completed his first test with Toro Rosso Ferrari. The Italian, who tested with Ferrari a year ago after winning the Italian F3 championship, lost time with some mechanical issues in the morning, but was able to put in the laps later in the day.
“Being able to help the team with testing for next year was very interesting, even though I had to spend some time in the garage in the morning," he said. "With so little testing allowed in Formula One, today was very important for me, giving me the chance to do some miles.”
The final day of testing takes place on Thursday.
Jerez - 02/12/2009
1 . G. Paffett - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 - 1:18.718 (+ 0.000 ) - 80 laps
2 . N. Hulkenberg - Williams Toyota FW31 - 1:19.184 (+ 0.466 ) - 94 laps
3 . D. Ricciardo - Red Bull Renault RB5 - 1:19.243 (+ 0.525 ) - 92 laps
4 . P. di Resta - Force India Mercedes VJM02 - 1:19.411 (+ 0.693 ) - 58 laps
5 . E. Gutierrez - BMW Sauber F1.09 - 1:20.190 (+ 1.472 ) - 68 laps
6 . M. Conway - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001 - 1:20.222 (+ 1.504 ) - 83 laps
7 . M. Ericsson - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001 - 1:20.440 (+ 1.722 ) - 37 laps
8 . JR. Hilderbrand - Force India Mercedes VJM02 - 1:20.517 (+ 1.799 ) - 49 laps
9 . J. Bianchi - Ferrari F60 - 1:20.586 (+ 1.868 ) - 113 laps
10 . L. Di Grassi - Renault R29 - 1:20.898 (+ 2.180 ) - 54 laps
11 . H. Tung - Renault R29 - 1:21.492 (+ 2.774 ) - 67 laps
12 . M. Bortolotti - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4 - 1:21.761 (+ 3.043 ) - 79 laps.