Jean-Eric Vergne continues to head the times in F1's Abu Dhabi young driver test despite being restricted to just 17 laps after Red Bull suffered sensor problems this morning. The Red Bull driver set a best lap of 1m40.188s to knock Ferrari driver Jules Bianchi off top spot.
Vergne's time was 0.177sec slower than his fastest time of Tuesday, and the Frenchman improved on his last lap of the morning to close to 0.65sec off the Red Bull driver with his best lap of the weekend.
Bianchi, who yesterday described this test as "important" for Ferrari mastering its vibrating front wing, ended the morning second fastest, 1.093sec off Vergne, although he was concentrating on aerodynamic and tire work rather than gunning for lap times.
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, who is completing a second day of running before dashing to Macau to compete in the Formula 3 Grand Prix, set the third fastest time as he continues to make a positive impression on the Williams test. If he continues his good performance, he will put himself into stronger contention for a possible race seat in 2012.
McLaren driver Gary Paffett ended the first half day of running in fourth place, but he caused a red flag shortly before midday when his car ground to a halt with a loss of oil. It's not clear when he will be able to return to the track.
Among the drivers making their first appearances of the test were Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, who was fifth fastest and Team Lotus one-time Friday driver Luiz Razia. Joining them were F1 test debutants Kevin Korjus (Renault), Kevin Ceccon (STR) and Johnny Cecotto Jr. (Force India).
Jan Charouz spent the morning driving for HRT in preparation for his full day for Renault tomorrow. He ended the day 11th fastest ahead of Charles Pic, who was only able to complete 21 laps for Virgin after the team spent part of the morning changing an engine-related component that required the floor to be removed.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Jean-Eric Vergne Red Bull-Renault 1m40.188s 17
2. Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1m40.838s 45
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Cosworth 1m42.548s 38
4. Gary Paffett McLaren-Mercedes 1m42.645s 23
5. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m43.637s 47
6. Sam Bird Mercedes GP 1m43.734s 43
7. Luiz Razia Lotus-Renault 1m44.323s 44
8. Kevin Korjus Renault 1m44.425s 38
9. Kevin Ceccon Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m44.947s 41
10. Johnny Cecotto Jr Force India-Mercedes 1m45.475s 39
11. Jan Charouz HRT-Cosworth 1m46.728s 37
12. Charles Pic Virgin-Cosworth 1m48.397s 21
All Timing Unofficial