Dean Smith carried the momentum of his McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award victory forward into Formula Two testing in Portimão, topping two of the six sessions and finishing third-fastest overall.
Both days ultimately saw drivers who had competed in the previous F2 season run fastest with Smith in second place behind them each time. Lithuania’s Kazim Vasiliauskas, who won at Imola in September, was fastest on day one while Jolyon Palmer topped day two.
Palmer, son of F2 and Formula Palmer Audi boss Jonathan, suffered through a largely anonymous 2009 season but has been among the front-runners across all four days of testing in Valencia and Portimão.
He said: “It’s the first time I’ve topped a session in Formula Two so I am really delighted. I have been making good progress recently and the Valencia test also went well last week, but it is a surprise to end up fastest.
“It is a great way to finish 2009 and this will give me a real boost going into next year.”
Vasiliauskas, who split his 2009 between F2 and Formula Palmer Audi, said: “It was a really good day. I was running down in seventh during the morning but I used that time as an opportunity to try some different things with the set-up of the car.
“After a year in Formula Two these are the kind of results I would expect, however, as I am confident of consistently running at the front.”
Smith, the reigning Formula Renault UK champion, barely had time to draw breath after the ceremony at which he won the Young Driver award before flying out to the Algarve for the F2 test.
Despite this he was fastest in the opening session of day one, saying afterwards: “It was a good session. There is a lot of power in this car – I have been changing the set-up to find out what it likes and how it fits with my driving style. I always like to get the best out of new tyres and I think I did with that lap – it went really well.”
Vasiliauskas dominated the second and third sessions of day one, with strong performances also from Smith, Denmark’s Johan Jokinen and Britain’s Duncan Tappy.
Tappy said: “I really enjoyed the two days and learnt a lot about the car and the championship. I feel confident in the car and in my own ability to deliver results.
“It’s definitely a car I’d love to compete in next season so now we need to focus on raising funds and getting there.”
Smith again took the honours during the first session of day two, before Jokinen and Palmer moved to the front in the early and late afternoon sessions.
Dutch F3 star Renger van der Zande and American Jonathan Summerton joined the test for its final day, with van der Zande setting the third-best time behind Smith but Summerton struggling near the bottom of the timesheets.
Day one combined times
- Kazim Vasiliauskas, LIT: 1:35.437s
- Dean Smith, GBR: 1:35.660s
- Benjamin Bailly, BEL: 1:36.142s
- Johan Jokinen, DEN: 1:36.155s
- Ramon Pineiro, ESP: 1:36.305s
- Ivan Samarin, RUS: 1:36.315s
- Alex Brundle, GBR: 1:36.428s
- Duncan Tappy, GBR: 1:36.522s
- Jose Alonso Liste, ESP: 1:36.658s
- Jolyon Palmer, GBR: 1:36.704s
- Jack Clarke, GBR: 1:36.809s
- Benjamin Lariche, FRA: 1:36.814s
- Nico Muller, SUI: 1:36.927s
- Ricardo Teixeira, ANG: 1:37.252s
- Kelvin Snoeks, NED: 1:37.374s
- Paul Rees, GBR: 1:38.287s
Day two combined times
- Jolyon Palmer, GBR: 1:35.519s
- Dean Smith, GBR: 1:35.599s
- Renger van der Zande, NED: 1:35.613s
- Kevin Mirocha, GER: 1:35.629s
- Kazim Vasiliauskas, LIT: 1:35.635s
- Duncan Tappy, GBR: 1:35.694s
- Johan Jokinen, DEN: 1:35.712s
- Alex Brundle, GBR: 1:35.952s
- Benjamin Lariche, FRA: 1:36.040s
- Tristan Vautier, FRA: 1:36.046s
- Benjamin Bailly, BEL: 1:36.194s
- Mihai Marinescu, ROM: 1:36.196s
- Ivan Samarin, RUS: 1:36.289s
- Jonathan Summerton, USA: 1:36.305s
- Jack Clarke, GBR: 1:36.438s
- Ricardo Teixeira, ANG: 1:36.601s