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McLaren favours Abu Dhabi for young driver test

Timing and logistics play in favour of end-of-season 'young driver' test, according to Sam Michael.
The two Red Bull-backed F1 teams are not the only ones in favour of staging this year's 'young driver' test in Abu Dhabi towards the end of the schedule, with Sam Michael admitting that McLaren, too, was prefer that option to the proposed alternative at Silverstone.

With the Abu Dhabi GP taking place in the midst of a busy finale that also includes trips to India, the USA and Brazil, some other teams have decided that the logistics of running young talent at Yas Marina between races would be out-weighed by the prospect of staying on at Silverstone after the British round in July. While that plan may make sense for the smaller, UK-based operations such as Caterham and Marussia, however, Red Bull and Toro Rosso both insist that they had there own reasons for sticking with Abu Dhabi.

"To be honest, I think, if you go back to the essence of what the test is meant to be for, which is to develop young drivers, it's down to [the question of] are you best off evaluating prospective new young drivers in the middle of the season or at the end of the season," RBR's Adrian Newey explained, "Personally, I would have thought [it best] at the end of the season because they're not at a junior formula they've been competing in, they've finished their championship, you can see how they've gone, they've got a bit more experience. To drop them into an F1 car in the middle of the season and then hoof them out again and tell them to wait until another eight months before you drive it again - I'm not sure of the value of that."

Toro Rosso technical director Giorgio Ascanelli has his own reasons for preferring to stay on at Yas Marina, citing the team's tight budget instead of anything to do with prospective talent.

"We have budgeted our resources to support 15 days of testing and we were counting on the fact that, eventually, the young driver test would occur at the end of the year, so that we could sustain it with the engine mileage which was left over from the races," he noted, "A second test in the middle of the season, which wasn't planned, for us is half a million? We don't have it."

While just those two teams were thought to favour the later date, however, Michael revealed that McLaren had no intention of running in mid-season either.

"I've got exactly the same view as Giorgio and Adrian," he said, "Our plan at McLaren, at the moment, is to test in Abu Dhabi. We're not testing at Silverstone for all those reasons. Engines is a significant factor, as Giorgio said. If you want to test at the end of the year, you have so many part-mileage engines with the race team that all have a little bit of mileage on them, so you can effectively do it for free, in terms of your race engines. If you try and do that in the middle of the year, you can't use your race engines, so you have to prepare a special test engine.

"And the point that Adrian made is very important, I think, because, if you try and have it in the middle of the year, and run your young drivers, then you are running them in the middle of their championship year. You need to be at the end, so that they have finished their F3 or F2 or whatever they're doing, and they have the capacity to concentrate on their F1 test."

Sauber, meanwhile, takes the opposite view, with Pierre Wache explaining that 'the better compromise in terms of cost would be to test at Silverstone for plenty of reasons: for logistics and costs', a view shared by Caterham's Mark Smith.

Pirelli, meanwhile, could face the prospect of having to supply tyres for both tests, although the company's Paul Hembery admitted that he had yet to be approached about Silverstone.

"To be honest, officially, we've only had indications from the teams testing in Abu Dhabi," he revealed, "Formally, we haven't had any indication about Silverstone yet, although verbally we did have a conversation, so we would be keen to know if Silverstone is going to happen or not."

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Sam Michael, Sporting Director, McLaren Mercedes
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