2013 Young Driver Test Day Three: Sebastian Vettel fastest as Susie Wolff impresses
Youngster Carlos Sainz junior once again catches the eye
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 20/07/13 9:31am
Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the Young Driver Test on Friday but it was Williams driver Susie Wolff who remained the focus of attention as she enjoyed a successful test debut.
Making her first appearance in a full test, and becoming the first female to take part in a timed F1 session since 1992 in the process, the 30-year-old impressed as she finished just over two seconds behind the World Champion in the timesheets. In all, the Scot completed 89 trouble-free laps to generate the acclaim of the paddock.
"I think she was pretty good, she was pretty quick and that's really fantastic to see a lady driving Formula 1," enthused Ferrari's Felipe Massa. "I was really happy when I saw the lap times and pretty happy for her. It would be nice maybe [to see] a team pushing Susie's driving on the racing and for Formula 1 it would be very interesting for everybody."
Wolff herself said she was delighted to be able to show the F1 world what she is capable of.
"Ultimately a race team is going to put the best driver they can in the race car because they want performance and for me it was important for me to show I had the performance," she told reporters.
"It was important to show that given the limited number of laps I had I can be on the pace and I was only four tenths off the Formula 3 European champion [Daniel Juncadella, who tested for Williams on Thursday], the guy who's rated as an up-and-coming young star."
It was interesting to note, too, that while Vettel wasted little time in trumping the field with a lap of 1:32.849 - the fastest not only of the day but the test overall - after replacing the eye-catching Carlos Sainz junior for the afternoon session, his table-topping effort was only three-tenths quicker than the best lap Daniel Ricciardo set on Thursday when he auditioned for a seat alongside the World Champion next season.
Although the comparative fuel loads carried by both drivers in the RB9 will remain known only by Red Bull, the young Australian's pace appears to have bolstered his claim to replace Mark Webber ahead of Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen for the 2014 campaign.
"I don't mind either of them. I get along with both of them," Vettel told reporters afterwards.
"I probably know Kimi a little bit better than Daniel but I think he did a good job yesterday."
In front of a sun-baked crowd of over 7000 spectators, Adrian Sutil was second quickest for Force India, with Lotus' Nicolas Prost third fastest just ahead of rising star Sainz.
The Spanish teenager once again caught the eye as he lapped just over half-a-second behind Vettel in his first appearance behind the wheel of the RB9. Having been moved to hail his outing in the Toro Rosso on Thursday as "the best day of my life", the 18-year-old described his experiences in the Red Bull as "a dream come true".
To the relief of everyone, the introduction of the new Pirelli tyres passed without incident, with Massa - one of over thirty drivers to have taken part in the three-day event - describing the new range as more "consistent and safer" than those banished after a series of blowouts marred last month's British GP.
Day Three Timesheet
1. Vettel, Red Bull, 1:32.894, 79 laps
2. Sutil, Force India, 1:33.242, 99 laps
3. Prost, Lotus, 1:33.256, 83 laps
4. Sainz, Red Bull, 1:33.546, 35 laps
5. Rigon, Ferrari, 1:33.592, 20 laps
6. Massa, Ferrari, 1:33.624, 69 laps
7. Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:33.647, 42 laps
8. Paffett, McLaren, 1:34.924, 77 laps
9. Wolff, Williams, 1:35.093, 89 laps
10. Van der Garde, Caterham, 1:35.155, 65 laps
11. Kyvat, Toro Rosso, 1:35.281, 16 laps
12. Pic, Caterham, 1:35.576, 46 laps
13. Sato, Sauber, 1:35.642, 57 laps
14. Gonzalez, Marussia, 1:36.339, 24 laps
15. Calado, Force India, 1:36.451, 5 laps
16. Bianchi, Marussia, 1:36.744, 39 laps.