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McLaren-Honda outing the headline act of Abu Dhabi test

24 Nov 2014

The first proper outing for McLaren-Honda's interim Formula One car is set to be the star attraction of the final two-day in-season test of 2014 in Abu Dhabi this week.

McLaren have already run Honda's new F1 power unit on track as part of a filming day at Silverstone, but the Yas Marina session will provide the first serious glimpse of the partnership's potential ahead of the 2015 season. The team's official reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who finished his rookie GP2 campaign as championship runner-up, will be charged with driving duties on both days.

"On Tuesday and Wednesday, here in Abu Dhabi, we'll be testing our hybrid McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/1X1 for the first time," McLaren team principal Eric Boullier said.

"It's an exciting time for both McLaren and Honda, and for all who sail and will sail in the good ship McLaren-Honda. Ahead of us are many weeks of hard graft, but you may be well sure we're up for the task."

Vandoorne will be one of several younger faces in action over the two days, although a handful of 2014 regulars will also join the test - including Nico Rosberg, who will drive for Mercedes on day one, barely 24 hours after his title defeat by team mate Lewis Hamilton at the circuit.

"Right now I have to say that I am not really in the mood for it," Rosberg said of the test when speaking on Sunday. "But as it is optional, maybe that is a sign that I'm already motivated again deep down inside."

Rosberg will hand over to reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein on day two. The 20-year-old races with Mercedes in the German DTM series, and became the youngest winner in the its history earlier this year when he triumphed at the Lausitzring.

Ferrari will split the two days between 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen - who will partner Sebastian Vettel at the team next year - and their protege and GP2 racewinner Raffaele Marciello.

Williams and Red Bull will also divide their line-ups. Valtteri Bottas will share with Williams' test and reserve driver Felipe Nasr, who has signed to race for Sauber in 2015, while Daniel Ricciardo will drive on day two for Red Bull, taking over from Carlos Sainz Junior. Spaniard Sainz, who won this year's Formula Renault 3.5 title, remains in contention for a 2015 drive with sister team Toro Rosso alongside Max Verstappen - who will be on driving duty in Yas Marina.

This year's GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer will also be present, driving for Force India on day one. Palmer, who won four times and claimed 12 podiums over the season, is the first Briton to clinch the GP2 title since Lewis Hamilton's 2006 triumph. He will hand over to Australia's Spike Goddard, who has competed in the FIA European F3 Championship for the past two years, for the second day.

Over at Lotus, FIA European F3 champion Esteban Ocon will make his third appearance for the team on the first day of the test, before moving aside for Charles Pic - who drove for the team during the 2013 season - for the second and final day.

Caterham will run Will Stevens on both days. The Briton arrives fresh from his Grand Prix debut with the team on the weekend, when he finishing the Abu Dhabi race 17th.

"I am very pleased to have the opportunity to spend more time in the car this week after completing my first Formula One race here in Abu Dhabi," Stevens said. "I'm keen to get as much mileage as possible under my belt in order to further my chance of securing a drive for next season."

Meanwhile, former Caterham racer Marcus Ericsson, who has signed to compete alongside Nasr at Sauber next year, is expected to get his first run in the Swiss team's C33.