Australian Ricciardo top in F1 young driver test
Abu Dhabi: Australian Daniel Ricciardo kept champions Red Bull on top of the Formula One timesheets, two days after Sebastian Vettel completed a title double for the team.
Ricciardo, at 21 just two years younger than Red Bull`s newly crowned champion, showed an impressive pace on the first day of post-season tests of young and up-and-coming drivers at Abu Dhabi`s Yas Marina circuit.
The Perth driver`s best lap of one minute 39.616 seconds would have put him third on the grid last Sunday, although the track has got faster with use since then.
"I think I`ve done quite a bit now in the junior categories and now this is my fourth proper day in an F1 car," said last year`s British Formula Three champion. "So I think I`m ready (for Formula One)," he told autosport.com.
Venezuela`s Pastor Maldonado, hot favourite to take Nico Hulkenberg`s vacant race seat at Williams, was in action with the HRT team and did 108 laps. Compatriot Rodolfo Gonzales was driving for Lotus.
"It was very good because I adapted immediately to F1 cars," said Maldonado, who tests for Williams on Wednesday.
The timing screens were full of unfamiliar names to those who pay little attention to junior series, with drivers from a swathe of countries not currently represented in Formula One.
Indonesia`s Rio Haryanto, 17, tried out the Virgin in the morning.
"When I first got into the car I must admit I was very nervous, mainly because there were so many people working around me and watching me," he said.
Antonio Felix da Costa, 19, tried out the Force India as the youngest Portuguese to get behind the wheel of an F1 car.
Sauber had Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, their 19-year-old reserve driver from Monterrey, on track while Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne was in the Toro Rosso.
Russia`s Mikhail Aleshin tested for Renault, who already have a Russian race driver in Vitaly Petrov.
Regular race drivers, including Vettel, will return to Yas Marina on Friday to test the new Pirelli tyres that have replaced Bridgestone for 2011.