McLaren was the quickest car on day one of the young driver test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with Kevin Magnussen topping the timesheets on his debut appearance behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.
The Dane, son of former F1 driver Jan Magnussen, set a time of 1 minute 42.651 seconds around the Yas Marina circuit, six-hundredths quicker than his nearest rival.
Running for Red Bull, which is set to clinch both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship this year, Antonio Felix da Costa was second in the charts.
“This was my first time driving an RB8 at a proper test, with proper tyres on a real circuit, and… wow! I was perhaps a little anxious beforehand, but ultimately the pedals and the steering wheel are in the usual places,” Felix da Costa said.
McLaren split its day’s programme with test and reserve driver Gary Paffett, who focussed on evaluating varied aerodynamic and suspension developments meant for both the remaining two races of the season and for next year’s challenger as well.
“Gary’s large workload also required a consistent baseline, meaning he drove without the benefit of DRS and some way below the limit in order to eliminate unwanted variables,” McLaren said in a statement which explained why the Briton was more than seven-tenths off the leading pace in third.
Sauber’s Robin Frijns was fourth with the Swiss team’s programme ensuring that the 21-year-old was never sent out with a qualifying fuel level.
“Gosh this was hard work! Not in the beginning but then suddenly I felt it, especially from the brakes. I am really tired now and know I have to go and exercise more,” Frijns reported.
“In the afternoon I found it hard to understand the tyre compounds. I had only driven on Michelin tyres before, and with the Pirelli medium and soft compounds it was difficult for me after only one lap,” the Dutchman confessed.
“I had the feeling the more careful I handled them the worse it became. There is obviously a lot to learn. On my fastest lap with the soft tyres I made a mistake, so there was more to come,” he added referring to the 1.1 second gap to the front.
In contrast, Nicolas Prost had a trouble-free day with the Frenchman testing new aerodynamic developments for Lotus and setting the fifth fastest time, 1.5 seconds slower than Magnussen’s benchmark.
“We only worked on the hard tyres, so were obviously not looking for pace, but we have been analysing the data and I have been comparing myself with Kimi (Raikkonen) and Romain’s (Grosjean) telemetry,” Prost said.
“Obviously I’m missing a bit in some corners, but others are quite good,” he added.
Sixth was Toro Rosso’s Luiz Razia followed by Giedo van der Garde of Caterham in the final slot, well over three seconds slower than the top of the table.
“After my FP1 session here in Abu Dhabi was cut short it was good to get some really decent time on track and the key thing for me is to keep developing my relationship with the team,” said van der Garde.
||Antonio Felix da Costa
||Giedo van der Garde