The final day of the 2013 Formula One Young Driver Test saw the hot and sunny conditions at Silverstone continue.
This year's test was modified to allow race drivers to perform limited testing of the new construction Pirelli tyres. Introduced after the chaos of the British Grand Prix, the tyres should prove slightly more durable.
Race drivers can only perform tyre testing—parts and development work is left to the youngsters (defined as any driver with fewer than two F1 race starts).
Mercedes were the only team not taking part. They were banned from the test for their part in the "secret" Pirelli tyre test back in May.
Friday's highlights were Williams' Susie Wolff becoming the first woman to do proper track testing in an F1 car since Katherine Legge in 2005, and world champion Sebastian Vettel trying out the new tyres for Red Bull.
A Look Back at Days 1 and 2
In stark contrast to the British Grand Prix held here a few weeks ago, the first two days went by with little in the way of drama. Daniel Ricciardo's off in the Red Bull gave the gravel trap watchers something to do, but the youngsters (and oldies) have mostly stayed within the track limits.
The new construction tyres have held up nicely. No spectacular blow-outs have occurred, but that's probably down to the teams using them differently, rather than the tyres themselves.
Big-names taking to the track have included the current champions of F1's two main feeder series, GP2 (Davide Valsecchi, Lotus) and Formula Renault 3.5 (Robin Frijns, Sauber).
Also in action were highly-rated Red Bull Junior Team member Antonio Felix da Costa (Red Bull) and Kevin Magnussen (McLaren).
The quickest time across the two days was 1:32.972, set by Daniel Ricciardo for Toro Rosso. The best time by a young driver was Carlos Sainz Jr.'s 1:33.016 for the same team.
The third day saw more race drivers taking part than any other day. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Jules Bianchi (Marussia) and Guido van der Garde and Charles Pic (both Caterham) all did tyre work.
Several "young drivers" returned for another go in the cockpit—Nicolas Prost (Lotus), Sainz (Red Bull, but was in the Toro Rosso yesterday), Davide Rigon (Ferrari), James Calado (Force India) and Rodolfo Gonzalez (Marussia).
Many eyes were on Susie Wolff (formerly Stoddart, as fans may remember her from years gone by), doing her first ever test for Williams. Female drivers are exceptionally rare in F1, so this was somewhat significant.
The last to attempt to qualify for a grand prix was Giovanna Amati in 1992, while the last to actually start a race was Lella Lombardi in 1976.
Also having their first taste of the action were Daniil Kyvat (Toro Rosso) and Kimiya Sato (Sauber). McLaren turned to their experienced tester, Gary Paffett.
Not everyone had a trouble-free day. Kyvat's day was interrupted by a visit to the gravel, and his car had to be brought back to the pits on a trailer.
Not quite as embarrassing as Ricciardo's off on Thursday, though.
The final results were (courtesy of Sky Sports):
|01||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:32.894||79|
|02||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:33.242||99|
|04||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Red Bull||1:33.546||35|
|07||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:33.647||42|
|10||Guido van der Garde||Caterham||1:35.155||65|
|11||Daniil Kyvat||Toro Rosso||1:35.281||16|
|15||James Calado||Force India||1:36.451||5|
* - denotes race drivers, limited to tyre testing for Pirelli.
As always, it's difficult to draw any solid conclusions because we don't know what the teams were doing at any given time.
Vettel being fastest for Red Bull is no surprise at all, but his lap wasn't especially quick. It was almost a second down on his best in practice for the British Grand Prix, and 2.6-seconds slower than his qualifying time.
So when comparing the youngsters to the oldies, it's worth considering that few drivers out there will have come close to pushing for quick times.
Friday was light on promising prospects. The best showing was again by Sainz, who managed to lap a little over half a second slower than Vettel in the same car. Prost also performed admirably for Lotus.
Wolff's lap was around a second slower than fellow rookie Daniel Juncadella managed on Wednesday, but read little into that. Wolff doesn't drive single-seaters regularly, so a 1:35.093 is by no means a poor lap.
Ferrari and McLaren (perhaps Lotus too) again concentrated more on car development than they did on assessing drivers.
The next race takes place at the Hungaroring near Budapest on 28 July. We'll find out then which teams have made positive steps forward.
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