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Doubts raised over Abu Dhabi test

29 March 2012

The ever-expanding F1 calendar may yet prove to be another blow to hopes of young drivers looking to break into the top flight.

Already hamstrung by the relative lack of testing afforded to inexperienced drivers, aspirants could now see the three-day Abu Dhabi Young Driver session axed or moved to allow teams a breather between races at the tail-end of the campaign.

The Yas Marina test, which originally took place after the 2010 finale and then between the Abu Dhabi and Brazil rounds last season, is currently scheduled for one of the few free spells at the far end of the 2012 campaign, but would mean teams working for five straight weekends with back-to-back events in India and Abu Dhabi preceding it and the new USGP in Austin being twinned with Interlagos immediately afterwards.

The session has provided a springboard for several drivers to join the F1 fraternity, most recently Charles Pic, who impressed the Marussia team sufficiently at last year's test to be confirmed alongside Timo Glock for 2012. Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean have also taken advantage of the session to reinforce their F1 credentials in recent years.

Amid rumours that the test could either be canned altogether, or switched to a more accessible venue - such as Silverstone - at a date more amenable to the teams, Yas Marina Circuit boss Richard Cregan admitted that he could understand the dilemma.

“Whether they have the tests here in Abu Dhabi is a decision the teams themselves would need to make,” he told the UAE's National newspaper, “We have made provisions and blocked out the week after our race, but they have the freedom to change that.

“It's a long season as it is and there are a lot of back-to-back races this year, so it's tough for them. We would obviously be disappointed if Abu Dhabi didn't host the young drivers' test because it has become a part of our season, but I can understand the teams' concerns.”


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