2 August 2011
F1 hopefuls get Abu Dhabi test dates
Aspiring F1 drivers will get the chance to demonstrate their abilities with a four-day test at Yas Marina between the final two races of 2011.
F1 teams will again use the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi to give valuable track time to drives on the fringes of the top flight, after the success of a similar experiment at the end of last year.
Although Abu Dhabi does not stage the season finale this year - that honour having been restored to Interlagos - the modern facility is viewed as one of the best at which to blood future talent, and teams will stay on for a further four days after the penultimate round before heading to Sao Paulo.
Last year's young driver test was combined with the teams' first taste of the new-for-2011 Pirelli tyres, but still provided enough of an eye-opener to team bosses that no fewer than four drivers - GP2 champion and runner-up Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez, Force India's Paul di Resta and Virgin's Jerome d'Ambrosio - were all confirmed as starters for the current campaign. Daniel Ricciardo, who also took part in the end of season test, has since been promoted to race driver with HRT.
"What Yas Marina did was very good and, for me personally, it was very helpful," Perez told the local National news website, "It gives drivers a better idea of what to expect the following year."
While the majority of those to land race seats for 2011 were already strong contenders with their respective teams, others will no doubt be hoping to be given a chance to shine in this year's test, with the likes of Mercedes' Sam Bird, Team Lotus' Luiz Razia and Davide Valsecchi and Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez all looking to break into F1 in the next couple of years.
"It was a very positive experience because, at the end of the GP2 year, to stay at the same track and drive F1, it allows you to better compare the different cars and categories, and understand things better," Maldonado explained.
With the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix scheduled to take place over the weekend of 11-13 November, there will be a day of rest/preparation for the teams before four days of action resumes on Tuesday 15 November.
"We are delighted to be hosting the young driver test," Yas Marina operations director Mark Hughes confirmed, "We have been working very closely with FOTA to ensure they get the dates they want. We are very proud about being a testing circuit and we look forward to the teams enjoying the facilities."
The Brazilian GP takes place at Interlagos between 25-27 November.
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