The first of young drivers test for this season has been held at Silverstone as opposed to the traditional schedule during the following weekend of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. F1’s tight race calender meant that, as race at UAE follows next to Indian GP, one week of preparation is all they got for back-to-back North American races, putting teams work load for five straight weekends.
As most of the bases run around Silverstone, almost 10 teams were expected to partake the two day test. In contrast, only Williams, HRT and Marussia were there to clock the miles. The concluded test was faced with criticisms of rain interruption in due course. Further the teams have agreed the choice between Silverstone and Yas Marina; consequently these teams can’t join the nine others at the end of the year.
The pros and cons were simple as this test could be used to develop on the assigned updates for forthcoming races and again if it gets rained off the teams would see a step back for the next successive races to come. The likely young drivers are in the middle of their formula seasons and this could hamper their prospects. In Abu Dhabi, moreover, the season would’ve quite a bit decided for both F1 teams and drivers in their respective categories.
Was it hasty or was it right? Nobody knew it. Valterri Bottas of Williams, Max Chilton and Haryanto of Marussia and Ma Qing Hua of HRT were all set to get themselves familiarised with the F1 racer. Chilton having already been there for Force India in 2011 and Haryanto for Virgin in 2010 in that programme only Hua had to be the first timer.
Bottas, the regular on practice session for Williams, went fastest before the lunchtime and stuck to be on top for the rest of the day. He was testing asymmetrical exhausts and new front wing first tried out on Saturday’s FP3. Before race simulation on afternoon, he worked on the base setup and aerodynamic tests.
Max Chilton put up a 1m 36.558 and ended his only session a bit earlier when air valve system sensor created a problem on his car and brought out the red flag. Haryanto completed 15 laps short of Chilton and set his fastest time after returning from the pits adjusting brake pedal box.
Qing Hua made history as being the first Chinese-born driver to drive an F1 car. He posted laps consistently in 1m 50s and lapped his fastest time under qualifying simulation on softs. Rain interrupted only before half hour left on the clock and Bottas went for a wet run as the day’s last event.
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m 31.436 120 Laps
Max Chilton Marussia 1m 36.558 34 Laps
Rio Haryanto Marussia 1m 37.404 19 Laps
Ma Qing Hua HRT 1m 37.829 82 Laps
HRT team had not participated in the final day concluding their very short drivers’ programme. The Williams team notably had number of small holes on its car’s nose cone connected to tubing down to the front wing for aiding front downforce. More miles on the second day again for Bottas as he concentrated on gathering data while getting comfortable behind the wheel to go fastest of all.
Switching from inters to slicks on morning when the international circuit layout dried through the session, the Marussia car was painted with fluorescent colour to gain data. The GP2 team-mates Max and Rio driving for Marussia’s sister team of Carlin did well enough for acquiring super-licence. Chilton was half second quicker at the end of the day.
Valtteri Bottas Williams 48.963s 170 laps
Max Chilton Marussia 49.932s 52 laps
Rio Haryanto Marussia 50.405s 79 laps
Senna was lacking in Qualifying pace on a car that regularly sees Q3 in the hands of Maldonado. The Finn Bottas puts huge pressure on him as he was getting up to pace on every Friday he took over from Senna. Despite finishing with points in races he needs to up his game on Saturday. HRT will get Chinese-sponsors from Hua which was apparent from the car he drove as new logos were inscribed on it.