• Young Driver Test

McLaren opts for Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test

ESPNF1 Staff
May 12, 2012 « Pirelli confident it has paddock support | Vettel remains optimistic for race »
Red Bull, Toro Rosso and McLaren have all confirmed they will test in Abu Dhabi for the Young Driver Test © Sutton Images
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McLaren has confirmed that it plans to join Red Bull and Toro Rosso in Abu Dhabi for this year's Young Driver Test rather than get behind plans to shift it to Silverstone.

The test, which offers drivers with less than three grands prix experience a chance to drive a contemporary F1 car, traditionally takes place after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit. However, some of the teams have said they intend to test at Silverstone following the British Grand Prix this year for cost and logistical reasons.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said at present he had not had confirmation that the Silverstone test will go ahead in July, but that it had been mentioned.

"To be honest, officially, we've only had indications from the teams testing in Abu Dhabi," he said. "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."

Red Bull and Toro Rosso have already made clear they will stick to testing in Abu Dhabi, and on Friday at the Spanish Grand Prix their respective technical directors - Adrian Newey and Giorgio Ascanelli - explained why.

"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: are you best off evaluating prospective new young drivers in the middle of the season or at the end of the season," Newey said. "Personally, I would have thought 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 a Formula One 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's Ascanelli added: "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, so a second test in the middle of the season which wasn't planned, for us, is half a million? We don't have it."

And in the same press conference McLaren's sporting director Sam Michael revealed his team was also planning to test at Abu Dhabi for similar reasons.

"Our plan at McLaren at the moment is to test in Abu Dhabi," Michael said. "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 also 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 so you to be at the end, so that they have finished their Formula 3 or Formula 2 or whatever they're doing and they have the capacity to concentrate on their Formula One test.

However, Sauber's head of vehicle performance Pierre Wache said it made more sense for his outfit to test in Silverstone.

"For us it's quite different. The better compromise in terms of cost would be to test at Silverstone for plenty of reasons: for logistics and costs. It would be better to test at Silverstone."

Caterham's Mark Smith agreed: "It's the same for us: logistically and cost-wise, Silverstone sits better for us."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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