Abu Dhabi young driver test - whos fielding who? 15 Nov 2011
Following Sundays 2011 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the paddock has stayed on at the Yas Marina Circuit for the annual, three-day young driver test, which begins on Tuesday. The rules stipulate teams are allowed to field any driver who has not competed in more than two Grands Prix, but for many this week it will be their first taste of F1 power. Heres a rundown of the drivers expected in action
The 2011 world champions will field Jean-Eric Vergne for all three days of the test. The 21-year-old Frenchman, who recently sampled Jaime Alguersuaris Toro Rosso during the opening Friday practice sessions in Korea and Abu Dhabi, has been a member of Red Bulls young driver programme since 2007 and finished second in this years Formula Renault 3.5 series. In 2010 he won the British Formula Three championship after taking 13 wins and 20 pole positions and in 2009 was runner-up in the European Formula Renault 2.0 series.
McLaren expect to run their test driver Gary Paffett along with McLaren young driver Oliver Turvey. DTM star Paffett, 30, joined the Woking team in 2005 and has since carried out numerous tests for them. Fellow Briton Turvey, 24, tested for McLaren during last years young driver session and has spent this season racing in GP2 and GT3.
Another Frenchman - Jules Bianchi - will be in action for the Italian stalwarts. The teams official tester, who is also a member of the Ferrari driver academy, carried out duties at last years young driver test too. The 22 year-old finished third in the 2011 GP2 Series after claiming one victory and five further podiums and sampled Ferraris 2009 car at a September test.
As he did last year at Yas Marina, British racer Sam Bird will drive for Mercedes. Bird, 24, was fifth in last years GP2 Series and sixth in 2011. Prior to that, Bird competed in the F3 EuroSeries and finished third at the 2009 Macau Grand Prix.
Renault have three drivers stepping into the R31 over the three days. First up on Tuesday will be Canadas Robert Wickens, 22, the reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion and a reserve driver with the Virgin Formula One team. In 2009 he finished second in the FIA Formula Two Championship, and in 2010 he was runner-up in the GP3 Series. On Wednesday 18 year-old Estonian Kevin Korjus, the 2010 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup champion, takes over. This year he became the youngest driver to win a race in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, going on to finish sixth overall. And on Thursday the Czech Republics Jan Charouz will be in action. Charouz has been one of Renaults F1 third drivers since 2010 and won the 2009 Le Mans Series and 2006 F3000 International Masters, as well as taking fourth place in the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans. He has also competed in Auto GP and Formula Renault 3.5.
Force India will field 20 year-old British driver Max Chilton on Tuesday and Thursday. Chilton carried out a straight-line aero test with the team in September and raced with Carlin in GP2 this season. On Wednesday it will be the turn of Johnny Cecotto Junior, who will enjoy his first taste of F1 power in the VJM04. Since graduating from karting, Cecotto has enjoyed spells in Formula BMW, Formula Three and GP2. This season the 22 year-old Venezuelan competed in GP2 Asia, before tackling the main GP2 Series, finishing 24th. His father, Johnny Senior, won two motorcycling championships in 1975 and 78 and switched to F1 during the 1980s, driving for Theodore and Toleman.
Swiss driver Fabio Leimer will make his Formula One debut in Abu Dhabi. Leimer will get one day at the wheel of the C30, with Sauber reserve Esteban Gutierrez driving the other two. Leimer hails from the Kanton Aargau and was a GP2 race winner in 2011. The 22 year-olds previous single-seater experience includes Formula BMW, Formula Renault and Formula Master.
Monaco-born Stefano Coletti and Italian Kevin Ceccon will split driving duties for Toro Rosso, with Coletti in action on Tuesday and Thursday morning and Ceccon taking to the track on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. Ceccon, 18, won this years Auto GP Championship and also drove in the main GP2 Series, the youngest driver ever to do so. Coletti has been racing single seaters since 2005, winning several championships including Formula BMW, Formula Renault and Formula Three. After two GP3 podiums in 2010, he stepped up to GP2 and took one victory in the Asia series and two in the main series with Trident Racing this season. Although a heavy crash at Spa in August left him with fractured vertebrae, after a swift recovery he made a successful return to GP2 testing in Spain last month.
The British team will field two champions during the test. Official tester Valtteri Bottas, who won the GP2 championship this year after scoring four victories and a further three podiums, will sample the FW32 over two days. The 20 year-old Finn won the Formula Renault Eurocup and NEC championships in 2008 with 17 wins and 22 podiums from 28 starts. In 2009, he graduated to Formula Three with ART and was the highest placed rookie, finishing third in the championship, and won the F3 Masters. On the remaining day reigning Formula Two champion Mirko Bortolotti will be in action. The 21 year-old Italian has spells in GP3 and the Formula Three Euroseries under his belt too. He tested for Ferrari back in 2008 and for Toro Rosso in 2009.
Lotus will split driving duties three ways between Rodolfo Gonzalez (Tuesday), Luiz Razia (Wednesday) and Alexander Rossi (Thursday). Venezualas Gonzalez, 25, was the 2006 national class champion in British Formula Three and has spent the last three seasons competing in the GP2 Series. He tested for Lotus at last years Yas Marina session. Razia was at that test too, with Virgin, and this season finished 12th in the GP2 Series, scoring two podiums and one pole position. The 22 year-old Brazilian also took part in opening practice for Lotus in China back in April. American Rossi is a veteran of series including Formula BMW, GP2 Asia and GP3, and finished third in this years Formula Renault 3.5 championship. He has some previous Formula One testing experience, having driven for Sauber at Jerez in Spain back in 2009.
Spanish GP2 driver Dani Clos will join HRTs ranks for the young driver test after competing - like several of his fellow testers this week - in the GP2 Final at the Yas Marina Circuit over the weekend. The 23 year-old made his single-seater debut in 2004 in Formula Renault Italia 2.0 and went on to win the title in 2006. A year later he joined Renaults F1 programme and took part in the Formula Three Euroseries. In 2008 he entered Williams young driver programme before making his GP2 debut in 2009. He took his first GP2 win in 2010 and this season finished the series ninth overall. Also in action on Wednesday and Thursday will be French driver Nathanael Berthon, who was also in action at the GP2 Final on Sunday. Berthon made his first step into single-seater racing in Formula Renault 2.0 in 2008. He would finish the Formula Renault 2.0 WEC in third place and the Formula Renault Eurocup in sixth in 2009. The following year he took part in the World Series by Renault where he claimed one win on his way to a seventh in the championship, whilst in 2011 the 22 year-old has competed in Formula Renault 3.5 and the GP2 Asia series. HRT also announced that Czech driver Charouz - also in action for Renault - will sample the F111.
GP3 star Adrian Quaife-Hobbs will be first in line to test the MVR-02 on Tuesday morning as a reward for being the best classified Marussia Manor Racing driver in the 2011 GP3 championship. Quaife-Hobbs has already carried out two straight-line aero tests for the team at Spains Idiada and at RAF Cottesmore in the UK. Frenchman Charles Pic will take over on Tuesday afternoon, followed by a further day of running on Wednesday. It will be the first time the 21 year-old has driven an F1 car. He finished fourth in this years GP2 Series, securing two race wins, five podiums and three pole positions along the way. On the tests final day World Series by Renault champion Robert Wickens will be back in action. Wickens drove for the team at Yas Marina in last Fridays opening Grand Prix practice session and impressed by finishing just 0.5s adrift of regular racer Timo Glock.
Check back throughout the week for updates and images from the test.
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