Following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, young driver testing will commence at Yas Marina like last year. This test always has some rookies that show up on the F1 grid; some of thhe young drivers may be on the 2012 grid. The requirements? You must have fewer than three grand prix starts. Let’s see who’s fielding who this year.
RED BULL- with Ricciardo at Hispania, he is inelligible to participate in this year’s session. His slot will be most definitely taken by Red Bull Junior stablemate Jean-Eric Vergne, who finished as runner-up in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this year.
MCLAREN- will test their longtime reserve, Gary Paffet, as they always do. Autosport BRDC award recipient Lewis Williamson of Scotland might make an appearance, as might British F3 champ Felipe Nasr and McLaren’s GT duo of Alvaro Parente and Oliver Turvey.
FERRARI- as always, will take the top three finishers in the Italian F3 championship. Also participating will be the Scuderia’s reserve, GP2 ace Jules Bianchi.
MERCEDES- might test their unofficial test driver Sam Bird. Other testing candidates are Christian Vietoris, Renger van der Zande, and Jazeman Jaafar (Petronas).
RENAULT- will test Robert Wickens, the Formula Renault 3.5 champ. Other drivers in the frame to test after Wickens are the members of the Gravity stable, namely Jan Charouz, Brendan Hartley, Fairuz Fauzy, Ho-Pin Tung, Sergey Afanasyiev, Nico Muller, and Kevin Korjus.
FORCE INDIA- with reserve Nico Hulkenberg unable to test, the team will probably run Antonio Felix da Costa again. Other possible drivers are Robin Frijns and Nigel Melker (both Dutch).
SAUBER- will certainly evaluate their test/reserve Esteban Gutierrez at Yas Marina. It will be interesting to see if they field Bianchi on the day the Italian F3 trio get the Ferrari test.
TORO ROSSO- with Vergne at Red Bull, Toro Rosso will probably field their Red Bull Junior Formula Renault duo of Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Daniil Kvyat. Lewis Williamson is another option for the Faenza squad.
WILLIAMS- will run Italian Mirko Bortolotti as a reward of winning the Formula Two championship. Joining him will be the team’s test/reserve Valterri Bottas, the GP3 champ. Also set for a test is Giedo van der Garde of the Netherlands, whose McGregor sponsorship makes him a candidate for a 2012 Williams seat.
CATERHAM/LOTUS- have a wide selection of drivers to choose from, including their GP2 drivers Davide Valsecchi and Luiz Razia, their test driver Ricardo Teixeira of Angola, and AirAsia development driver Alexander Rossi.
HRT- likely to test an assortment of pay drivers. Expect to see Fabio Leimer present, along with a bunch of Venezuelan GP2 underachievers. Giedo van der Garde is also an option.
Virgin- will field Adrian Quaife-Hobbs as a prize for being the highest-placed Manor GP3 driver this year. Regular test driver Robert Wickens will also test along with his Renault prize test. Giedo van der Garde, once again, is a lucrative option for the team.