This week the Yas Marina Circuit hosted the Young Driver Test from 15-17 November. On this occasion, Formula One teams spent three days testingthe best and most promising talents who race in some of the most competitive Championships, namely GP2 and GP3 Series.
A total of fourteen GP2 drivers were put to the test, starting with this season’s third place finisher Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman tested for three days at Ferrari, the same team that had entrusted him with third driver duties in 2011. Bianchi said: “These have been three very busy days of testing for me and the team. I am pleased with the work we achieved, because we were able to get through practically everything scheduled for this test. Specifically today, we did some long runs to check the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres over a long distance. During the three days, I only used the Soft compound, because it was the one that best suited the work the team wanted to carry out on track.”
Sam Bird tested for three days at Mercedes GP while Oliver Turvey was at McLaren, and three F1 teams relied solely on GP2 graduates. Force India worked with Max Chilton for two days and Johnny Cecotto Junior joined the teams for the day three and said: ‘Everything was just incredible from the moment I left the pits to begin my first lap. These cars are so impressive: the power, the braking performance and the aerodynamic grip you get through the corners – it makes you say “wow”. It was good to try out some of the 2012 tyres in the afternoon and the team seemed happy with the data and my feedback. Overall it was just an unbelievable experience to work at such a professional level, with a great crew, and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.’”
Sauber tested their official third driver Esteban Gutierrez for two days who stated: ‘It was a great day for me to learn about the different tyres. It is quite challenging to adapt from one to another, and you have to be sensible enough not to push too hard when you have less grip. It was a very good experience for me and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m happy with how the team is welcoming me back in the car. It is good to drive again to continue developing myself to get prepared for the future.” The Mexican replaced Fabio Leimer on the last day. The Swiss driver had the chance of trying out the Sauber-Renault car and set the fourth-fastest time on the opening day: "I didn't expect it to be so nice to drive. It is so stable and smooth when riding the kerbs" said Leimer after his run. "It was a great day, full of new experiences."
Stefano Coletti and Kevin Ceccon shared the honours at Toro Rosso. The young Italian driver said: “This was an incredible experience for me, driving a Formula 1 car and working with this team and first, I must say thank you to Scuderia Toro Rosso for giving me this fantastic opportunity. We got through a lot of work, testing parts for the car as well as next season’s Pirelli tyres, running them in comparison to this year’s. I drove two long runs, from which I was able to understand a lot. Therefore today was very good as a learning experience for me and I am looking forward to making more progress tomorrow from a personal point of view and also in terms of helping the team for next season."
Charles Pic tested with Marussia-Virgin and commented: “My thanks to the team once again because it has been a very positive experience here this week and I have enjoyed it very much.” Rodolfo Gonzalez had the chance to show his potential at Team Lotus: “It’s my dream to drive in Formula One so I’m really very thankful for this opportunity. I think I’ve showed I have potential with the lap times I did, and am pleased with my times overall. I’ve proved I can do the job and have really enjoyed this experience in the car and learned a lot for my future.” The team also put Luiz Razia back at the wheel of their car: “There was so much to learn today, and an awful lot to think about!” said the Brazilian. “It’s about trying to give good feedback and also think about what’s happening, and also get the best out the car, which of course you’re not used to. So it’s so important for us to have this test, and this opportunity doesn’t come along very often, so I’m extremely grateful and happy to get the time in the car.”
Dani Clos and Nathanael Berthon impressed at HRT, with the Spaniard stating: “It was great to step back into an F1 car; it's been three years since I drove with Williams," said Clos. "I've got a lot of experience in GP2 and have achieved good results there.”