Some 14 years after his father's last race appearance in the top flight, Kevin Magnussen topped the times on his debut with the McLaren team at Yas Marina.
The Dane, who graduated from F3 to the World Series by Renault this season, spent the morning at the wheel of the Woking team's MP4-27, combining acclimatisation to the extra power of an F1 machine with gradual set-up changes as he fine-tuned the car to his driving style. He eventually completed 40 laps, with a best time of 1min 42.651secs that lasted through the afternoon session and kept him in top spot.
Regular McLaren development pilot Gary Paffett took over for the afternoon, working on a more aggressive programme that focused on a range of aerodynamic and suspension developments under consideration for both the final two races of 2012 and next year MP4-28. The Briton completed 44 laps, but was almost a second slower at 1min 43.407secs – largely because his workload required a consistent baseline and prevented the use of DRS.
Splitting the two McLaren drivers at the end of the day was Red Bull protégé António Félix da Costa, who split his allotted time between mechanical work in the morning and aero-mapping during the afternoon, covering 79 laps in the process.
“This was my first time driving an RB8 at a proper test, with proper tyres on a real circuit, and… wow!” enthused the Portuguese ace, who finished higher than Magnussen in the WSbR standings, “I was perhaps a little anxious beforehand, but ultimately the pedals and the steering wheel are in the usual places.
“There's a lot to learn, particularly with the buttons on the steering wheel, and it took one or two runs to get completely comfortable with all of that – but I think we had a good day.”
WSbR champion Robin Frijns, who takes over from da Costa on the third and final day, got his session underway with Sauber, clocking the fourth-fastest time of the session, which was run entirely in daylight, unlike Sunday's grand prix.
The 21-year old Dutchman was getting his first taste of an F1 car on a proper race circuit, having previously only experienced a demonstration run, but covered 78 laps - roughly the equivalent to one-and-a-half grand prix distances - without incident, despite feeling the physical effects.
“Gosh this was hard work!” Frijns exclaimed, “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!