Who's running in the 2021 Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi?
The Formula 1 season came to a thrilling conclusion on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, with Max Verstappen winning his first World Championship. But the action continues on Tuesday on Wednesday at the end of season Young Driver Test, where Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri and IndyCar frontrunner Pato O’Ward are among those set to star.
Some of the hottest young names in motorsport will get the chance to sample contemporary F1 machinery during a day of testing at the Yas Marina Circuit.
On top of the Young Driver Test, nine of the 10 teams will also run two-year-old mule cars adapted for the 2022 18-inch Pirelli rims.
The mule cars will get track time on both Tuesday and Wednesday as part of Pirelli’s test plan that is taking place in parallel at the Abu Dhabi circuit, with the likes of Verstappen, George Russell, Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso confirmed to take part. Williams have been permitted to use their 2021 machinery on both days, meanwhile.
Alfa Romeo will be running the newest name on the grid, Guanyu Zhou. The F2 title challenger will get his first taste of an Alfa Romeo on the Wednesday, ahead of becoming China’s first full-time F1 driver in 2022.
Zhou won’t be the only debutant at Alfa Romeo, as Valtteri Bottas is down to drive the mule car on Tuesday for his new team.
Red Bull junior Liam Lawson will take control of the AlphaTauri for his first on-track F1 experience. The New Zealander ran a double programme in 2021, finishing ninth in F2 and third in DTM.
For the Pirelli portion of the test, Yuki Tsunoda will get behind the wheel on Tuesday, before handing over the keys to Pierre Gasly on Wednesday.
Ahead of stepping up as Alpine’s Reserve Driver in 2022, Piastri will get his hands on the A521. The 20-year-old clinched the F2 crown in Abu Dhabi on Saturday to cap off a remarkable season where he scored five wins, including a record four Feature Race victories in a row.
Meanwhile, Esteban Ocon and Alonso will drive in the Pirelli portion of the test on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
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Aston Martin will field simulator driver Nick Yelloly in the test on Tuesday. The British driver spent the season in ADAC GT Masters with Schubert Motorsport, finishing eighth.
Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel will take care of the mule car, with the Canadian testing the 18-inch tyres on Tuesday and the German having a turn on Wednesday.
The third of six F2 drivers set to take part in the young driver test is Robert Shwartzman. The 2019 Formula 3 champion and 2021 F2 vice-champion will dovetail for both Ferrari and Haas, while Ferrari’s Simulator Driver, Antonio Fuoco, will also spend time in the SF21.
Charles Leclerc and Fuoco will share duties in the mule car on Tuesday, with Carlos Sainz hopping in for a full day on the 18-inch tyres on Wednesday.
On the Tuesday, Shwartzman will be joined in the Haas garage by Mick Schumacher, who will be busy running the new 18-inch tyres. Pietro Fittipaldi will then take over from the German on the Wednesday.
McLaren have announced that IndyCar title contender Pato O’Ward will drive F1 machinery for the first time with the team. McLaren were absent from the tests in 2020 but will field the 22-year-old Mexican on the back of an impressive season in America, where he finished third with five podiums, including two wins.
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris will then take over to try out the 18-inch tyres on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
For the second year in a row, Formula E champion Nyck de Vries will drive for Mercedes – the team fresh off winning their eighth straight constructors’ title. The Dutch driver took two wins and two further podiums in FE this year and has appeared at several races as Mercedes’ Test and Reserve Driver.
George Russell is also down to feature on both days in Abu Dhabi as the former Williams driver looks to settle into his new office.
For the second year in a row, Juri Vips will get his hands on the Red Bull, having shared the RB16 with Sebastien Buemi in 2020. The Estonian Red Bull Junior became F2’s first double-winner in Round 3 at Baku, ending the year sixth in the rankings with four podiums on top of his two wins.
And he may have recently been crowned world champion, but the hard work doesn’t stop for Verstappen, who will take care of the Pirelli part of the test on Tuesday. Sergio Perez will then take to the wheel all day Wednesday.
The final member of the F2 contingent to be taking part is Logan Sargeant. The American driver – who will race for Carlin in the 2022 F2 championship – only joined the Williams Driver Academy in October but will get to make his F1 debut in Abu Dhabi, driving for Williams on both Tuesday and Wednesday.