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Young guns fired up for Jerez test 01 Dec 2009

Bertrand Baguette (BEL) Renault R29 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Brendon Hartley (NZL) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. JR Hildebrand (USA) Force India F1 Team, VJM02 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Brawn GP, BGP001 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Andy Soucek (ESP) Williams FW31 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain.

All eyes will be on the Jerez circuit in southern Spain from Tuesday as several Formula One teams take advantage of the proviso in the FIA’s stringent testing restrictions that allows them three days of track time to try out young, up-and-coming drivers.

The aim is to see if any of the stars from motorsport’s junior formulae really has what it takes to become the next big thing in F1 racing. Here’s a rundown of the drivers expected…

Renault - Bertrand Baguette, Ho-Pin Tung, Lucas Di Grassi
As reward for winning the 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 series, with five wins and 155 points, Baguette will be in action for the French team on Tuesday. Baguette made his single-seater debut after winning a programme set up by Renault to assess young Belgian karting talent. And after getting promoted from Formula Renault 1.6 to 2.0 and finally 3.5, the 23 year-old believes driving the R29 will ‘complete the set’.

Tung became the first Chinese driver to drive a Formula One car back in 2003 when he tested for Williams, after winning the Formula BMW Asia championship. In 2006 he won the German Formula Three title and over the following two seasons competed in the GP2 Series, finishing 23rd in 2007 and 18th in 2008. This year he honed his racing skills in the Superleague series.

Although Renault’s reserve driver in 2009, Brazilian Di Grassi is yet to sample the R29 and is thus permitted to take part in the session. He finished this year’s GP2 championship in third for a second year running. Back in 2005 the 25 year-old won the prestigious Formula Three Macau Grand Prix.

Toro Rosso - Brendon Hartley, Mirko Bortolotti
On Tuesday 20 year-old New Zealander Hartley will take charge of the Toro Rosso, while fellow Red Bull Junior team member Bortolotti will test on Wednesday. It will be the Italian’s second taste of Formula One power. The 19 year-old Formula Two racer impressed in a test for Ferrari at Fiorano in November 2008, after winning the Italian Formula Three title.

Red Bull - Daniel Ricciardo
Australian Ricciardo will get his first full Formula One test with Red Bull. The 20 year-old, who has been a Red Bull junior driver for the last two seasons, scored six wins and 275 points on his way to the 2009 British Formula Three title. Last season he raced in Formula Renault, winning the Western European Cup.

BMW Sauber - Alexander Rossi, Esteban Gutierrez
Despite their F1 exit, BMW will be honouring their promise of tests for these two teenagers. American Rossi clinched the 2008 Formula BMW Americas championship after taking nine pole positions and 10 race victories, and was awarded his F1 chance after winning the Formula BMW World Final event late last year. This season he was the most successful rookie in Formula Master with three victories.

Mexican driver Gutierrez was declared the 2008 Formula BMW Europe champion after winning seven races and taking a further five podiums. This season he has been competing in the British and Euro Formula Three series.

Williams - Andy Soucek, Nico Hulkenberg
The 24-year-old Spaniard Soucek earned his test by winning this year’s inaugural F2 championship (in a Williams-designed car). He will get Tuesday at the wheel of Williams’ F1 machine, the other two days going to the team’s 2010 race driver Nico Hulkenberg, whose limited Formula One experience makes him eligible to test.

Ferrari - Jules Bianchi, Daniel Zampieri, Marco Zipoli, Pablo Sanchez Lopez
Highly-rated Frenchman Bianchi, 20, recently won the Formula 3 Euroseries title and will take the wheel of Ferrari’s 2009 machine, the F60, for the first two days. On the final day, as in 2008, Ferrari will trial the top three drivers from this season’s Italian Formula Three series - Italians Zampieri and Zipoli, and 19-year-old Mexican Lopez.

Force India - Paul di Resta, JR Hildebrand
Upcoming Di Resta, from West Lothian, Scotland, is a Mercedes works driver in the German DTM touring car series and finished third overall with one win in the 2009 championship. He previously won the 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries against a field including current F1 race winner Sebastian Vettel and in 2004 was awarded the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award.

Hildebrand, from California, USA, has quickly risen to prominence on the American racing scene thanks to impressive results in the junior formulae and, most recently, his victory in Indy Lights, the feeder series to the USA's premier racing championship. In 2006 he secured the Formula Ford 2000 championship title and in 2007 was the top placed US rookie in the Atlantic championship.

Force India will field Di Resta on day one, Hildebrand on day two, with the driver for the final day dependant on the progress of the team’s testing programme. The team have made it clear that should either perform well a ‘permanent role’ could well be on the cards.

McLaren - Oliver Turvey, Gary Paffett
Twenty two-year-old Englishman Turvey gets his test as reward for winning the 2006 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. He was runner-up in last year’s British F3 championship and this season finished fourth overall in Formula Renault 3.5. He currently lies seventh in the 2009 GP2 Asia Series.

McLaren are also expected to run Paffett, who first tested a McLaren back in 2001, the year before he became German F3 champion. Since then the Englishman has had regular outings with the British team (though none this year), but the bulk of his time has been spent in Germany’s DTM touring car series, which he won in 2005 with Mercedes. This season he finished runner-up to Timo Scheider after four wins.

Brawn GP - Mike Conway, Marcus Ericsson
Brawn GP, now owned by Mercedes, are expected to field two drivers whose talents are well proven in lesser series. Briton Conway, a former British F3 champion, was a tester with the team in their Honda days and has since competed in GP2 and most recently IRL in the United States. Swede Ericsson, 19, is the reigning Japanese F3 champion and finished fourth in the prestigious Macau Grand Prix last month.

Look out for reports and images from Jerez over the coming days on Formula1.com.