It’s day two of F1’s young driver test, and Badger’s got the low-down on those running today in Abu Dhabi. Day one pace-setter Daniel Ricciardo remains in a Red Bull, whilst Sam Bird (Mercedes), Jules Bianchi (Ferrari) and Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) also get a second run for their respective teams. Read on for more info on the rest of the men hitting the Yas Marina track today…
For day two report click here.
McLaren – Gary Paffett
The most experienced man at the young driver test isn’t really that young any more but, sadly, he’s yet to start a Grand Prix. Deserves more, but looks unlikely to land an F1 race seat any time soon and will have to be content with racing at the front in DTM, getting paid handsomely to attend Grand Prix with McLaren and doing some simulator work. Okay, life isn’t too bad for Gary, but we’d love to see him in a race seat.
Renault – Jerome d’Ambrosio
Apologies to JdA, who ran yesterday but wasn’t in our preview. The Belgian was in a Virgin on Tuesday but now steps up to a Renault, his reward for being the team’s most successful test driver in 2010. The fact that he finished 12th in GP2 tells you how stiff the competition was. Will be very interesting to see how he compares to Mikhail Aleshin, who drove the car yesterday.
Williams – Pastor Maldonado
It’s Pastor’s big day as he steps in to a Williams. The Venezuelan now looks a shoe-in for the drive (what with the Hulk gone and Adrian Sutil saying he’ll re-sign with Force India) and this is his opportunity to show the world that he’s ready for the big time. He was quick for Hispania yesterday – considering the car – so he should do a decent job for Sir Frank’s team. Probably the most interesting aspect of the young driver test.
Force India – Yelmer Buurman
Following Antonio Felix da Costa’s solid display on Tuesday Force India will be running Dutchman Yelmer Buurman today. Yelmer’s had a few decent seasons in football-themed championship Superleague Formula, he’s got some money behind him and – like Force India co-owner Michael Mol – he’s Dutch. It wouldn’t be a huge shock to see him appointed the team’s test driver if incumbent Paul di Resta is promoted to a race seat in 2011.
Sauber – Sergio Perez
Sauber’s new-for-2011 driver Sergio Perez will be in the car today, the Mexican’s first run in F1 machinery. In celebration of this I had fajitas (again) last night and the resounding success of my meal suggests to me that young Perez is a star of the future. That and his sublime GP2 win at Monaco, obviously.
Lotus – Vladimir Arabadzhiev
Life is full of mysteries: what are we doing here? What does it all mean? And why is 30-year-old Vladimir Arabadzhiev driving a Formula One car at F1’s young driver test? The third is the biggest of the lot, though also the easiest to answer: he’s paying big bucks for the chance. Vlad did GP2 this year and, frankly, wasn’t very good at all. He failed to score a single point up to the Monza round and then split with his team. Meanwhile GP2 race-winners like Dani Clos and Charles Pic are nowhere to be seen at the young driver test. Vladimir runs this afternoon following Rodolfo Gonzalez’s second shot in the car in the morning.
Hispania – Josef Kral & Davide Valsecchi
Josef Kral had a shunt not too dissimilar to Mark Webber’s in GP2’s Valencia race but, unlike the Aussie, he didn’t walk away. He spent several months on the sidelines and didn’t return to action until the weekend’s Abu Dhabi event. He took a podium – his first in the series – and steps in to a Hispania today. We’re not 100% on his long-term potential and it’ll be interesting to see how he stacks up to the team’s other runner.
That will be Davide Valsecchi, winner of last year’s GP2 Asia Series but a big disappointment in the main championship this season. Has a wealthy family but also a spark of talent, so his struggles this year were a surprise to many. Won the final GP2 race of the season but it was too little too late and he’ll now need to rely on cash to make the jump to F1.
Virgin – Luiz Razia
Luiz has been Virgin’s tester all year but gets his first run in the car today. A decent young Brazilian racer who also has some money behind him, Razia was team-mate to GP2 champ Pastor Maldonado this year but, after a strong start, endured a nightmare mid-season. Bounced back with a podium at the final race and will feel 2011 must be his year.