While many of next year's Formula One drivers contracted for 2010 are waiting as late as February to drive their cars in testing, the new ban did not cause any damage to the young drivers, who this week received the first green light to test F1 cars at Jerez, in southern Spain.
With the beginning of the three day test which started on Tuesday, the weather was brisk, but dry enough to complete a good day of laps.
On Tuesday, Formula Two Champion Andy Soucek recorded the fastest lap of the day, which was a reward for him after winning the title. The Spaniard set a time of One minute, 19 seconds in his Williams-Toyota FW 31 seconds ahead of German Touring Car driver Paul di Resta, who was driving a Force India Mercedes. Third was a young driver as well, but Briton Gary Paffett has more experience with any F1 car in testing after he won the DTM a few years ago. Now, in a McLaren Mercedes, Paffett set the third best time.
Despite the dry conditions, there were a few incidents that brought out red flags, including Kiwi Brendon Hartley, who took the nose and one wheel off his Toro Rosso car. Daniel Ricciardo and Soucek also had minor spins.
The second day had a brief shower occur over the track, but most of the drivers managed to complete many laps, including Paffett, who recorded a One minute, 18 second lap, which eclipsed the time set by Soucek the day before. GP2 Champion, Nico Hulkenberg got his laps down in his Williams, and was only four tenths of a second off the Briton. Ricciardo stayed with the bunch, and took the third fastest time, just one tenth off Hulkenberg.
On the final day, 16 drivers decided to put all their past two days experience to the test and the best one to learn from all of this was Ricciardo, who in his Red Bull, finally managed with patience and consistency to record a time of One minute 17 seconds, which was the fastest time of all three days. Di Resta was second fastest, 1.3 seconds slower, while Paffett was third, with nearly the same time.
Ricciardo, who is the current British Formula Three champion, has been linked to the second Toro Rosso seat this year, along with Sebastian Buemi and thanked everyone involved with his three day experience.
"These last three days have been an incredible experience for me," stated Ricciardo. "I would like to thank Red Bull for giving me this great opportunity, which has made me even more determined to make it into F1 one day. I know it was just a test, but seeing my name at the top of today's timesheet was really something special."
Testing will now cease until the end of this year, which teams and scheduled drivers will be in action in 2010.