16 November 2011
F1 test chance for 2011 GP2 drivers
This week, several of the 2011 GP2 Series field are taking part in the F1 Young Drivers Tests in Abu Dhabi, including Jules Bianchi, Fabio Leimer, Sam Bird and Dani Clos.
F1 teams are using an extended three-day stay at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit facilities in Abu Dhabi to try out some fresh talent behind the wheels of the Grand Prix cars.
Among the GP2 stars to have an opportunity to impress F1 teams and managers was Fabio Leimer, who won the GP2 Final feature race at the venue on Saturday. He had the chance of trying out the Sauber-Renault car and set the fourth-fastest time on the opening day before Esteban Gutierrez took over on day 2.
"I didn't expect it to be so nice to drive. It is so stable and smooth when riding the kerbs compared to a GP2 car," said Leimer after his run. "It was a great day, full of new experiences."
Other GP2 stars from the recently-concluded season to appear include Max Chilton and Johnny Cecotto Jr. at Force India, Oliver Turvey at McLaren and Sam Bird with Mercedes.
Jules Bianchi had the Ferrari to himself for the testing, and he was happy with the first day's work: "I would say it was a good day. Especially this morning, when we worked mainly on aerodynamics," he said. Admitting that "my aim is to get into F1", he admitted that "Honestly, I don't know what I will be doing next year."
Although he finished third in the main GP2 season this year, Bianchi confessed to being disappointed with how 2011 had turned out for him. "A bit, because the aim was to win the GP2 title and unfortunately I ended up third," he said. "The early part was very bad, with too many mistakes, but then I redeemed myself. All the same, finishing two consecutive championships in a podium position is not that bad is it?"
Elsewhere, Rodolfo Gonzalez and Luiz Razia got the chance to test with Team Lotus, while Stefano Coletti and Kevin Ceccon got a taste of this year's Toro Rosso - with Alexander Rossi in line to take the car on day three.
Rumoured to have already signed a deal with Marrussia-Virgin in F1 for 2012, Charles Pic tested with them this week after cancelling an opportunity to turn out for Renault at short notice. Britain's GP3 star Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, who had previously taken part in the GP2 post-season testing in Spain, also tested with the Virgin team this week.
Dani Clos, Nathanael Berthon and Jan Charouz all turned out for HRT, with Clos particularly happy to have another chance in a Grand Prix car.
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