On the final day of the Formula One Young Driver's Test in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull Racing rookie Daniel Ricciardo continued his dominance by setting a lap time that was 1.3 seconds faster than Sebastian Vettel's in last Sunday's grand prix and hence, would have seen the 21 year old Australian line up in pole position.
"It was cool to do this test and great to get so close to the big boys times from the weekend!" beamed Ricciardo. "It's very rare to get a perfect car, but I have to say this is very close. It's a pleasure to drive it, you brake and you turn and the car does everything as you imagine it would."
His 1:38.102s lap was set in countryman Mark Webber's Hungarian GP winning Red Bull RB6 with an hour to go after Mercedes driver Sam Bird had briefly led the time sheets earlier in the afternoon. Despite general consensus being that the track conditions were estimated to be 1.5s faster than they were for the grand prix, Ricciardo's time has set tongues wagging in the F1 paddock, on only his fourth time behind the wheel of an F1 car.
Red Bull's Head of Race Engineering, Ian Morgan said, "Daniel has done a great job for us in the car over the last two days and made no mistakes, we're very happy with him. We completed our programme and got though everything as planned."
Having spun earlier in the day, Jerome d'Ambrosio recovered to set the second fastest time of the day for Renault. The Belgian ended seven tenths of a second off Ricciardo's lap yet four hundredths quicker than Bird.
"Overall it has been a fantastic day. Obviously I have some previous experience in Formula 1, but this was my first full day in the car so it was a big step for me," said d'Ambrosio. "It always takes some time to adapt to a new car, but I quickly felt comfortable in the R30 and we found a good balance early on."
Out in the McLaren for the first time since February last year, Gary Paffet took over driving duties from Oliver Turvey, setting 4th fastest time, ahead of Ferrari's Jules Bianchi, who set consistent impressive times after concentrating on development work yesterday.
Making his F1 debut, Sauber's Sergio Perez finished 6th, ahead of early morning runner Paul di Resta in the Force India - the Scot having handed driving duties over to Yelmer Buurman who could only manage 10th by the end of the day.
Driving for HRT yesterday, Pastor Maldonado finally got a taste of a Williams as the team evaluate drivers in contention for the seat vacated by Nico Hulkenburg. Spending most of the morning focusing on aerodynamic work, the Venezuelan was finally let off the leash, lapping three quarters of a second off Barrichello's qualifying time last Saturday. Despite a precautionary shut down of his engine, he managed to complete a strong total of 81 laps.
Newly crowned British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne missed the second half of the afternoon session as he had to catch a flight for this weekend's Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix, yet completed his second day of running by setting 9th fastest lap.
Fresh from his recent GP2 victory, Davide Valsecchi debuted for HRT in the afternoon but caused a red flag when he spun trying to improve his lap time. Although his best was 1:43.013s, it was still an impressive two seconds faster than Bruno Senna managed last Saturday, in the same car.
driver Luiz Razia completed a total of 70 laps and set 12th fastest time ahead of fellow debutant Josef Kral (HRT) and the Lotus pair of Rodolfo Gonzalez and Vlasdimir Arabadzhiev.