Andy Soucek set the pace on the first day of Formula 1 young driver test sessions at Spain's Jerez circuit, despite an afternoon spin that brought out the red flags.
The 24-year-old Spaniard, who was testing for Williams as his prize for winning this year's Formula 2 championship, shot to the top of the time sheets during the first hour of running, and was never outside the top four thereafter. His pace-setting lap of 1:19.158 came with an hour of running to go, and was after a spin and stall at the Michelin hairpin brought out the red flags.
Britain's Paul di Resta was an impressive second quickest, despite Force India having only run him in the afternoon, after Firestone Indy Lights champion J.R. Hildebrand drove the car during the morning. The DTM front-runner, who tested McLaren's F1 cars several times last year, set a best lap in the final 10 minutes of the session that was 0.211sec slower than Soucek's – and less than 1.2sec faster than Hildebrand's best in the young American's first taste of Formula 1.
Rossi, driving for Sauber as a prize from former team owner BMW for having won the last Formula BMW World Final, set a best lap some 0.3sec quicker than Hildebrand's fast time.
The morning running was interrupted by an early red flag when Brendon Hartley spun his Toro Rosso between the chicane and Ferrari curve and clouted the barrier, knocking off the right-front wheel and nose of his car. Daniel Ricciardo, who was following closely, spun in avoidance and ended up getting his Red Bull beached in the gravel. Ricciardo recovered to set the fourth-fastest time, ahead of Ferrari's Jules Bianchi and Mercedes (Brawn)'s Mike Conway, the British IndyCar Series racer.
Briton Oliver Turvey, who was testing as his prize for winning the 2006 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award, was given 90 minutes of running at the end of the day by McLaren. He completed only 27 laps – less than anyone else – but improved his times more than anybody else in the final half hour. His best lap was 1.698sec off the pace.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Soucek Williams 1m19.158s 87
2. Di Resta Force India 1m19.369s + 0.221s 46
3. Paffett McLaren 1m19.426s + 0.268s 54
4. Ricciardo Red Bull 1m19.534s + 0.376s 112
5. Bianchi Ferrari 1m19.626s + 0.486s 90
6. Conway Brawn 1m19.920s + 0.762s 58
7. Rossi Sauber 1m20.227s + 1.069s 82
8. Ericsson Brawn 1m20.333s + 1.175s 49
9. Baguette Renault 1m20.511s + 1.363s 105
10. Hildebrand Force India 1m20.537s + 1.379s 49
11. Turvey McLaren 1m20.856s + 1.698s 27
11. Hartley Toro Rosso 1m21.325s + 2.167s 69
All Timing Unofficial