Abu Dhabi Young Drivers’ Test
11th October 2011, 0:44 at 12:44 am #130248
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.11th October 2011, 18:03 at 6:03 pm #180452
Thanks for the nice preview Portugoose.
There are a lot of young drivers who deserve this chance, particularly the actual champions and runners-up of different feeder series, of course. Alexander Rossi should get the chance; I’ve got a feeling that he might have a big future. I also would like to see the young Kiwi Richie Stanaway there and Felipe Nasr looks very promising, too.
I don’t think McLaren should be allowed to “test” Paffett as he is neither a youngster nor a serious candidate for any of F1 race seats. Maybe some age restrictions should be applied, for instance, the “young” drivers shouldn’t be more than 29 years old. If that sounds discriminating, then at least the accrued F1 testing experience should be taken into account.11th October 2011, 19:02 at 7:02 pm #180453
I agree with you, Girts, I’d rather see Felipe Nasr or someone else of that calibre in the McLaren rather than Paffet, who really hasn’t achieved anything in F1.
I was thinking that Force India will maybe field Felipe Nasr, as his manager Steve Robertson has the connections to potentially put him in an F1 car for the test despite his lack of sponsorship. Stanaway is a Gravity driver, so he might test for Renault if they have a space for him in their queue.11th October 2011, 20:01 at 8:01 pm #180454
Ferrari never tested the top 3 Italian F3 drivers at Abu Dhabi, but did so at Mugello: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2010/06/16/ferraris-young-drivers-sample-f2008/
Davide Rigon, if he recovers from his injuries, being Ferrari’s test driver could make an appearance as well.11th October 2011, 20:33 at 8:33 pm #180455
Thanks for the correction, Fixy!
Also, another candidate for a Red Bull/Toro Rosso test is Neel Jani, who has done show runs for Red Bull this year.11th October 2011, 20:52 at 8:52 pm #180456
I was wondering about him as well, @portugoose: he was a Red Bull development driver some years ago, comepted in GP2 and became Toro Rosso’s test driver. After that he went to Champ Car, but to my surprise despite not being F1 material, he didn’t lose the Red Bull backing, which he still has, and I have just seen a video where he drives Red Bull’s showcar, so despite losing F1-backing from Red Bull, they haven’t dropped him but rather helped him in other categories.
Despite this, he has done very well in A1 GP and quite well in his rookie season in GP2, and he isn’t as bad a driver as I thought before seeing his results.
But I find it unlikely he will test for Red Bull or Toro Rosso, simply because he did so 5 years ago and nothing came out of it.11th October 2011, 22:43 at 10:43 pm #180457
Very interesting Portugoose!
I don’t think McLaren should be allowed to run Paffet either, they seem to be using the fact that he’s never actually raced in F1 to sneakily get a bit of serious testing with an experienced driver done. That and the fact that it’s against the spirit of the young driver test, which should be about giving experience to up-and-coming drivers who might well be on the grid one day.12th October 2011, 0:31 at 12:31 am #180458
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.
I’d add their Indonesian GP3 driver, Rio Haryanto, to that list.12th October 2011, 0:58 at 12:58 am #180459
Yeah, Haryanto tested last year alongside d’Ambrosio because he beat Quaife-Hobbs and Adrien Tambay in the Manor car. However, I do not think Haryanto will get the test this year because I think d’Ambrosio hasn’t done enough to keep his seat (and he was apparantly struggling with sponsor payments earlier in the season) and so Virgin will be looking at Wickens (their official reserve) and Van der Garde (who has a stuffed pocketbook) to potentially replace the underperforming (at least in my opinion) Belgian.
I read some Italian reports that HRT are in fact set to evaluate Ceccotto, Rodolfo “not-so-speedy” Gonzalez, and Julian Omar Leal. This made me laugh because I had previously predicted that HRT were going to evaluate some “Venezuelan GP2 underachievers” (and yes, Leal is Colombian, but it’s still funny.)24th October 2011, 12:11 at 12:11 pm #180460
Fabio Leimer will test for the Sauber team alongside Esteban Gutierrez.
Franz Tost has confirmed that Charles Pic will test for Toro Rosso, but Pic is a prime candidate for Jerome d’Ambrosio’s Virgin seat.25th October 2011, 9:32 at 9:32 am #180461
Delighted to see Charles Pic for STR and JEV for RBR… with Romain Grojean, yes, the French are coming.28th October 2011, 1:44 at 1:44 am #180462
It has been confirmed that Gravity-backed star Kevin Korjus of Estonia will test for Renault. He will join FR3.5 champ Rob Wickens at the Enstone-based team.
Also, Monégasque pilot Stefano Coletti has been confirmed as a Scuderia Toro Rosso test driver. He is not part of the junior team, but he did race in GP2 this year with some minor Red Bull decals on his helmet. He will presuambly be joined by GP2 frontrunner Charles Pic. I also predict that on one day, RB junior teammates Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr will split the running of the STR car between themselves.3rd November 2011, 16:50 at 4:50 pm #180463
Rossi confirmed for a day at Lotus.4th November 2011, 13:21 at 1:21 pm #180464
It’s Ceccon for Toro Rosso as well.4th November 2011, 22:36 at 10:36 pm #180465
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