GP2 Series frontrunner Fabio Leimer will get his chance to taste F1 power when he joins the Sauber team for next month's 'Young Driver' test at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Already likely to be a part of the GP2 field that supports the penultimate round of the F1 world championship in the Gulf state, Leimer will get to drive the Ferrari-powered C30 on one of the three test days between 15-17 November set aside for inexperienced pilots as part of the winter testing allowance. The Swiss ace, who dominated the first off-season GP2 test at Jerez with local team Racing Engineering, will partner regular Sauber reserve Esteban Gutierrez, who has already been slated to drive on two days in Abu Dhabi.
“We are pleased we can offer Fabio this opportunity,“ Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn commented, “The test opportunities for young drivers are extremely limited nowadays, and it is always exciting to see how they deal with all the complexity of an F1 test.”
Leimer, a former International Formula Master champion, has yet to sample an F1 car, but is looking forward to the step up in performance after proving that he can win races at GP2 level.
“When I found out that I will definitely take part in the F1 test, I realised for the first time what this actually means," he smiled, "Being a racing driver, of course, you always dream of F1. That this dream is now coming true is almost unbelievable.
"On top of that, not many Swiss drivers have ever had the chance to test for the Sauber F1 Team. For this reason, it is an even more special honour for me to be able to get my first laps in an F1 car under my belt as a Swiss for the Swiss team. I am very much looking forward to that challenge and want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made it possible.”
Leimer's F1 opportunities appear limited for 2012, especially with Sauber having already confirmed that its current pairing of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi will remain in tandem next season. However, with Perez tipped as a future Ferrari pilot, the Swiss ace has the chance to add his name to that of Gutierrez as a potential replacement for the Mexican in future years.