F2 champion sets impressive pace in Abu Dhabi
Recently crowned FIA Formula Two Champion Dean Stoneman was fifth fastest at the end of the first Formula One young driver test at Abu Dhabi today (16 November).
The young Briton recorded a competitive 1:41.522s in the closing stages of the day to move into fifth overall, fractions behind Esteban Gutierrez, who was recently confirmed as Sauber's official test driver for 2011.
Impressively, his benchmark time eclipsed the best practice efforts of both Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hülkenberg when they competed in F1's season finale at the Yas Marina track two days ago - Barrichello recording a 1:42.316s and Hülkenberg a 1:41.934s. He was remarkably just one tenth of a second shy of Hülkenberg’s qualifying effort, which the German driver set in the second part of the session.
“That was slightly different to what I’m used to!” Stoneman reflected after the test. “It was good to start off with some speed-limited aero work as it allowed me to build up to doing quicker laps in the afternoon. Towards the end of the day, I just kept pushing to see where the limit of the car was and where I could improve my times around the lap. Today was a great experience and the team have been really supportive. It’s also been a major opportunity for me. To be given the chance of driving a Formula One car doesn’t come around that often, so I feel very privileged.”
|Dean Stoneman with two Williams Engineers|
Williams F1 Senior Engineer Tom McCullough admitted the team had also been pleased with Stoneman’s performance on the day, saying: Dean Stoneman was in the cockpit today for the first day of the young driver test. We did aero work this morning, from which we’ve accumulated useful data. Dean used the afternoon to familiarize himself with the car and put some times on the board. He went quicker every lap he completed, worked well with his engineers and overall did a professional job for the team. We’re impressed by him.”
Stoneman, whose test was part of his prize for winning the 2010 FIA Formula Two Championship, had earlier set the ninth fastest time overall in the morning despite mainly concentrating on aerodynamic work.
The afternoon provided him with more opportunity to hone his skills in Williams' FW32 challenger, and he duly improved throughout the final three hours to eventually end the day fifth fastest - ahead of Formula Renault 3.5 Champion Mikhail Aleshin, British Formula 3 Champion Jean-Eric Vergne and long term Force India test driver Paul di Resta.
Daniel Ricciardo ended the day fastest, ensuring Red Bull remained at the top of the F1 timesheets just days after the team clinched a world championship double at the circuit.
Formula One test times, Yas Marina circuit, 16 November 2010:
1. Daniel Ricciardo*, Red Bull, 1:39.616s
2. Oliver Turvey*, McLaren, 1:40.725s
3. Antonio Felix da Costa, Force India, 1:41.381s
4. Esteban Gutierrez*, Sauber, 1:41.432s
5. Dean Stoneman, Williams, 1:41.522s
6. Mikhail Aleshin*, Renault, 1:42.073s
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:42.489s
8. Paul di Resta*, Force India, 1:42.736s
9. Sam Bird*, Mercedes, 1:42.985s
10. Jerome D'Ambrosio*, Virgin, 1:43.518s
11. Pastor Maldonado, HRT, 1:43.750s
12. Jules Bianchi*, Ferrari, 1:43.894s
13. Rodolfo Gonzalez, Lotus, 1:44.924s
14. Rio Haryanto, Virgin, 1:49.439s
* Previous F1 experience