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Jerez test December 2009 roundup - A review of the fast and slow of the F1 young driver testing in Spain

Published by Mr. C

Prior to this week's three-day test in Jerez, we ran a number of posts building up to the event, covering all the runners and riders. This was as much for our own benefit, given the majority of the people were completely unknown to us. During the week we ran threads for each day of the test, in an effort to keep up with the happenings down in Spain.

Daniel Ricciardo
Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

For the casual observer, F1 testing is a pain in the backside to follow. Teams make almost no effort to communicate what's going on throughout the day, and even the usually useful Renault blog failed to provide updates until after the fact. It's entirely possible teams do not want fans to know what's going on, but if that were the case, why bother to put out post-test press releases at all?

Those who do wish to keep on top of the action have to run the gauntlet of sporadic twitter updates, dodgy translations from foreign news sources and a never-ending quest for fresh photographs. Force India, did at least manage to offer some mid-day updates, but is that really the best F1 has to offer?

The teams

Nine teams showed up in Jerez, Toyota being the notable omission. BMW did arrive though, to honour a commitment to two young drivers who earned a test back in 2008. None of the new teams scheduled to race in 2010 had a chassis available.

Although the event was dubbed a 'Young Driver Test', both McLaren and Renault opted to run more experienced hands in order to extract as much information about running next year's car as possible. It appeared that all attendees ran with Bridgestone's slimmer front tyre and carried additional ballast at some point. Additionally, Ferrari could be seen running around the track minus front wheel bins, which are also now banned.

12 drivers saw action on Tuesday, the same number again on Wednesday. The total increased to 16 on Thursday. The track was especially dirty at the beginning of the week, and light showers occasionally disrupted running, but at least one team managed to put in over 100 laps on each day.

The drivers

Andy Soucek
Credit: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic

Superstar rookie on the first day of testing was Andy Soucek who topped the timesheets in the Williams. His testing opportunity was granted thanks to winning the F2 championship this year and finishing the day so well does at least indicate the ultra low-cost series might be able to produce future F1 drivers.

It was Jules Bianchi who stole the early headlines though, as after just a single day of testing he signed a deal with Ferrari.

Even his Renault engine gave up before he did.

Day two saw Gary Paffett atop the time sheets, but his best time was lowered by over a second on the final day when Daniel Ricciardo dropped the benchmark significantly. Of all the new names and faces present this week, Ricciardo's star appeared to shine the brightest. Some fast times, a lot of laps and three whole days worth of testing all to himself, the man did a fine job. Only an on-track disagreement with Brendon Hartley during the opening laps on Tuesday blotted his copy book. Even his Renault engine gave up before he did.

Hartley and Bortolotti failed to impress in the Toro Rosso, neither did any of Ferrari's other hopefuls, although they didn't get a lot of seat time between them. Zampieri less so after he dropped it at the chicane causing a red flag.

As for the rest, Hildebrand has been bemoaning poor pace on some badly timed runs while Hülkenberg gained some much needed experience which should give him an advantage over the rest of next year's rookies. Paul di Resta again made a case for an F1 drive, finishing just behind Ricciardo on day three, in a Force India no less.

That just about wraps up our Jerez testing coverage. We've learnt some new names, discovered some fantastic nicknames (stand up Luca di Licious, Topsy Turvey, Disco Dan, Soup Chef and Gloria Esteban) and caught a glimpse of what Formula 1 might hold in store in the future. The conditions were almost perfect, and none of the drivers managed to humiliate themselves. I can't wait for grown up testing to resume in the New Year.

All content in the series Jerez Testing December 2009