Sebastian Vettel closes out Silverstone test on top

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Sebastian Vettel has continued his devastating form that has persisted throughout the past three years by finishing the final day of the young driver test at Silverstone quickest.

The Red Bull driver also set the fastest time across the three days despite only running this afternoon, taking over from youngster Carlos Sainz Jr. who had completed the morning session for the defending world champions.

Trailing behind Vettel’s timesheet-topping time of 1:32.894 were Adrian Sutil and Nicolas Prost, both of whom finished just over three-tenths off the German driver. Sutil had led during the lunch break, but he eventually handed the VJM06 to James Calado, with the Briton completing just five laps and finishing 15th.

Sainz continued his good form to finish P4 ahead of the Ferrari duo of Davide Rigon and Felipe Massa, with the Brazilian driver finishing just 0.023 seconds ahead of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

McLaren’s Gary Paffett rallied to finish 8th despite losing most of his early running due to an engine failure, but the team managed to fix up his MP4-28 for the afternoon session as they tested parts for the 2014 car.

Today also marked a significant day for women in motorsport as Susie Wolff completed 89 laps for Williams, finishing a respectable 9th as she looks to secure a superlicense in the near future. The Scottish driver was closely followed by Giedo van der Garde for Caterham.

Russian youngster Daniil Kyvat had a mixed day as he got behind the wheel of an F1 car for the first time, losing time in the afternoon following a mistake that saw him go off, with Rodolfo Gonzalez also suffering a similar fate for Marussia. It didn’t get much better for the Anglo-Russian team as Jules Bianchi’s afternoon came to an early end due to a car failure.

Kimiya Sato (no relation to IndyCar star Takuma) also enjoyed his first taste of F1 running for Sauber, finishing in P13 behind Caterham’s Charles Pic.

Young Drivers’ Test, Silverstone Circuit: Day three result

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:32.894 79 laps
2 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:33.242 99 laps
3 Nicolas Prost Lotus 1:33.256 83 laps
4 Carlos Sainz Jr Red Bull 1:33.546 35 laps
5 Davide Rigon Ferrari 1:33.592 19 laps
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:33.624 69 laps
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:33.647 42 laps
8 Gary Paffett McLaren 1:34.294 77 laps
9 Susie Wolff Williams 1:35.093 89 laps
10 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:35.155 85 laps
11 Daniil Kyvat Toro Rosso 1:35.281 22 laps
12 Charles Pic Caterham 1:35.576 60 laps
13 Kimiya Sato Sauber 1:35.642 67 laps
14 Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia 1:36.339 24 laps
15 James Calado Force India 1:36.451 5 laps
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:36.744 39 laps

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “