December is considered the holiday season in the world of racing, but this is not for everyone. At least not for 16-year old Gabby Chaves.
Having conquered the FBMW Americas series, Chaves is looking to move up the racing ladder and has spent his winter to date testing with various F3 teams with an eye on graduating to the category this summer.

After receiving his championship trophy in Germany, Chaves tested with the West-Tec, Campos and Hitech teams, adapting quickly to each, and to the new speed and power that F3 offers. Without making any mistakes, the youngster's times proved competitive, comparing well to drivers with more experience.

"These tests are another step for me," Chaves confirmed, "They are part of the process, not the final goal. I still have things to learn and I will continue working hard to achieve all the goals I want to accomplish. In the
next few days, we will decide what step we will follow in 2010. I feel very excited about having the possibility of competing with major teams in international series of such quality."

The first round of testing was done at Snetterton with West-Tec, which currently competes in the Euro Open and British championships.

"I enjoyed the balance of fast and slow corners in this circuit," Chaves reported, "It was my first time driving an F3 car and I feel that I adapted quickly to the increase in speed and power that I was used to in FBMW."

The team was greatly surprised with Chaves' test and, after reviewing his data and video footage, showed interest in having him on board for the 2010 season.

Only a few days later, the teenager travelled to Spain for a two-day test in a Dallara F306 run by the Campos Racing Team, and again he performed strongly.

"I tested the F306 for two days and, after that, I went to Barcelona to test with Hitech, before coming back to Cheste for an additional day of testing with Campos Racing, but this time with an F308," Chaves revealed,
"In the end, I had three days with Campos Racing and, for each of them, there were different weather conditions which I had to quickly adapt to.

"It was my first time in the Cheste circuit, which is very technical, but the team provided me with very good information. I learned all I could from the engineers and I gave my best to get everything I could from each session."

On the second day in Valencia, Chaves posted the second fastest time among the Euro Open runners, behind only F308-mounted team-mate Felix Rosenqvist. A few days later, Chaves got to drive the 2008-spec Dallara used in the senior class of the championship and, once again, the report from team co-ordinator Jos? Piera was positive.

"The adaptation to the F308 was no problem for the driver," he claimed, "The main difference with the F306, which Gabby drove during the first two days, is the chassis. The engine, the power and the tyres are the same in both models. However, the F308 has better development in dynamics, and mainly in aerodynamics, which makes it be more effective and faster, especially in fast corners.

"We definitely believe that, with a good testing programme to polish some small details, Gabby could challenge - and probably be successful - in the Euro Open series. Talent, competitiveness, maturity, willingness to learn, adaptation, confidence and humility, are among others, strong qualities that we have seen with this driver who, remember, is only 16 years old. We are very satisfied that we had the possibility of testing this driver and I personally believe that he will have a long and successful career."

Taking full advantage of his time in Spain, Chaves travelled to Barcelona in order to drive for Hitech.

"It was a test with challenges," he reported, "It took a long time to adjust the car seat and I never felt 100 per cent comfortable in the short period of time that I drove the car. But I learned a great deal. We had no radio communication between the car and the pits, so the only way to get commands was from the pit wall."

Hitech were also impressed with the youngster's performance.

"I have to say that we were nervous that he would be frustrated by the delay and would make a mistake trying to make up for the lost time but this never materialised," said team director Ryan Sharp, "Gabby's track awareness in the car was great. From the first run he was watching situations with traffic and never
wasted any time by starting laps when clearly they were going to be ruined by slower cars."

"Speed is not going to be a problem for Gabby as he showed he was more than capable of taking in everything he required. This, along with the pace he showed, was very encouraging. I have to say that, to be within
touching distance of William Buller - who has both raced in Barcelona and now has some 18 days of F3 testing under his belt - on his first visit to Barcelona and his first test in British F3 car was very impressive."