Wickens leads the way again at Paul Ricard Carlin’s Robert Wickens set the pace yet again today on the second and final day of testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France. The Marussia backed driver improved on his pace from yesterday to set the quickest time of the two day test this afternoon. Team mate Jean-Eric Vergne was also amongst the front runners throughout the duration of the test, completing a strong outing for the Carlin team and finished the day sixth quickest.
A second day of dry running allowed the FR3.5 drivers to continue their test programs in Paul Ricard this morning, in the final pre-season official test of 2011. Under clear blue skies, Wickens and Vergne took to the track this morning full of confidence, having been first and third quickest respectively yesterday.
Both drivers had a long test programm ahead of them, as the focus on the final day of testing lay on learning the maximum about the FR3.5 car rather than setting the quickest laps. Nevertheless, both drivers remained in the top four on the timesheets for the majority of the day, with Wickens finishing the morning session second quickest, with Vergne a competitive fourth fastest.
In the afternoon, the Carlin drivers once again took the opportunity to practice live pit stops in preparation for the start of the season, before once again concentrating on their progress on track. British F3 Champion Vergne topped the timesheets in the early part of the session, but it was Wickens who later became the first driver to drop below the 1 minute 50 seconds mark to become the quickest driver of the test for Carlin.
“We’ve had a really strong test here”, reflected pace setter Wickens. “In a way the times are irrelevant, what really matters is that every time we’ve made a change the car was better. It’s great to have a car that feels consistently quick, it’s definitely confidence inspiring for the whole team. The key point for me is that we’re making big steps forward since the first test at Motorland and even since Barcelona last week.”
Racing Director Trevor Carlin added, “The team have done a really good job this week. They’ve stuck to a detailed program but at the same time have been able to demonstrate that the changes they’ve made have produced a really quick car. Both Robert and Jean-Eric have both been consistently quick over the last two tests, which puts us in a very strong position as a team for the start of the season.”
Vergne and Wickens will get one further day’s testing at Monza next week when they take part in an unofficial test, before the season kicks off at Motorland from 15 – 17 April.
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