Esteban Ocon to get Force India test outing

F1i 12/05/2015
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In charge: Force India's Esteban Ocon.

Esteban Ocon will drive for Force India on the second day of in-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya after a late driver change.

– Fernando Alonso calls for ‘double steps’ from McLaren
– Toto Wolff: Rosberg win shows drivers on a level field
– Red Bull confirms interest in Audi partnership

Pascal Wehrlein had been due to drive for Force India on Tuesday, with Nick Yelloly taking over on Wednesday.

However, the team was forced to put Yelloly in the car on the opening day due to Wehrlein suffering from a fever, and with the young German driving for Mercedes on day two he will be unable to run in the VJM08 this week.

Force India has therefore turned to 18-year-old Ocon, who was previously development driver at Lotus.

Ocon won last year’s FIA European F3 championship – beating Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen to the title – and marked his debut GP3 race weekend with victory in Barcelona.

Ocon is another driver affiliated with Mercedes, with the team announcing it would be providing support to his career last week, and also revealing an option to sign him as a “fully fledged Mercedes-Benz driver in the future”.

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Nico Rosberg tops opening morning of Barcelona test

F1i 12/05/2015
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The fastest again: Nico Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the opening morning of testing in Barcelona, beating his Spanish Grand Prix pole position time.

– Fernando Alonso calls for ‘double steps’ from McLaren
– Toto Wolff: Rosberg win shows drivers on a level field
– Red Bull confirms interest in Audi partnership

Fresh from his victory in Sunday’s race, Rosberg was the busiest driver in the opening four hours of running in Barcelona, setting a best time of 1:24.374 and completing 78 laps.

With Mercedes testing tyres for Pirelli on the first day, Rosberg’s time was set on unmarked rubber but was 0.3s quicker than his pole lap on Saturday.

Much like this weekend’s race, Ferrari was closest to Mercedes but comfortably adrift in terms of pace.

Raffaele Marciello is driving the SF15-T on Tuesday and also passed the 50-lap mark as he posted a 1:26.648 to end the morning session over two seconds adrift of Rosberg.

Pastor Maldonado was third quickest for Lotus, 0.7s off Marciello. It was a more productive start to the day for the Venezeulan than Sunday’s race, with 53 laps on the board and all the bodywork intact after he was forced to retire from the grand prix with rear wing damage.

Red Bull again struggled for mileage, with Daniil Kvyat fourth fastest but only registering 20 laps in the morning session.

The team is likely to be careful with its running as it has suffered numerous power unit failures this season, although team principal Christian Horner says he wants to see Renault push for performance rather than reliability.

There were two debutants on Tuesday morning, with Pierre Gasly fifth in the Toro Rosso and completing 60 laps. Gasly – who finished 3.7s off Rosberg’s time – will switch to the Red Bull on Wednesday.

The other new driver was Nick Yelloly who made his debut for Force India.

Yelloly was originally scheduled to drive on Wednesday but an illness for Pascal Wehrlein saw the young British driver switch to Tuesday, with Esteban Ocon called up for day two as a result.

Yelloly enjoyed a solid morning, completing 49 laps and ending up just 0.053s slower than sixth-placed Marcus Ericsson.

Oliver Turvey got his first run in the McLaren MP4-30 as the team worked on aerodynamic analysis.

Turvey’s total of 31 laps saw a best time over five seconds off the pace, and he is scheduled to have a long lunch break as the team makes substantial changes ahead of the afternoon session.

Williams’ Felipe Massa was slowest in the morning, six seconds off Rosberg’s pace in a session which saw no interruptions.

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Nick Yelloly in frame for third driver role at Force India

F1i 12/05/2015
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Hot prospect: Nick Yelloly.

Nick Yelloly could become Force India’s official third driver if he impresses during a test outing for the team in Barcelona.

– Fernando Alonso calls for ‘double steps’ from McLaren
– Toto Wolff: Rosberg win shows drivers on a level field
– Red Bull confirms interest in Audi partnership

The young Briton is taking part in his first F1 test on Tuesday at the Circuit de Catalunya, driving the VJM08.

With Yelloly also racing for Force India-affiliated Hilmer Motorsport in GP2, Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley told F1i the outing is the next step in preparing him for a potential future third driver role.

“He’s been with us for a little while actually and he’s doing a super job on the simulator program, so the idea behind this is to give him some actual track experience so that it enhances his simulator development program,” Fernley said.

With Fernley confirming Force India is still talking about who should be its third driver, he says Yelloly is currently top of the list.

“I think we should always keep doors open and Nick’s proving to be a very valuable team member. Obviously he’s doing some work with Hilmer now as well, so all that bodes well for him for the future.”

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