The complete run down of who, when, where and what for this week’s Young Driver Test at Silverstone, beginning Wednesday 17th July and running through until Friday.
Note – Race drivers in bold letters
|FERRARI||Davide Rigon||Davide Rigon||FELIPE MASSA/Davide Rigon|
|FORCE INDIA||James Calado||ADRIAN SUTIL or PAUL DI RESTA||ADRIAN SUTIL or PAUL DI RESTA|
|LOTUS||Nicolas Prost||Davide Valsecchi||Nicolas Prost|
|MARUSSIA||Tio Ellinas/MAX CHILTON||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Rodolfo Gonzalez/JULES BIANCHI|
|MCLAREN||Kevin Magnussen||Oliver Turvey||Gary Paffett|
|RED BULL||Antonio Felix da Costa||Antonio Felix da Costa/SEBASTIAN VETTEL or DANIEL RICCIARDO||Carlos Sainz Jr/SEBASTIAN VETTEL|
|SAUBER||Robin Frijns||Robin Frijns/NICO HULKENBERG||Kimiya Sato|
|TORO ROSSO||Johnny Cecotto Jr||Carlos Sainz Jr/DANIEL RICCIARDO||JEAN ERIC VERGNE/Daniil Kvyat|
|WILLIAMS||Daniel Juncadella||PASTOR MALDONADO||Susie Wolff|
If there are a few unfamiliar names on there, read on and get to know some of the young talent bidding to put itself in the front of the shop window this week.
Nicolas Prost – Son of the mercurial French World Champion, Nicolas currently races in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Rebellion Lola racing – a partner of the Lotus F1 Team outfit. At the age of 31, he is not a contender for a race seat barring anything other than a series of unfortunate accidents for Lotus’ regular drivers, so his run on Wednesday will be more about pulling the crowds with a big name than any serious driving ‘examination’.
Davide Valsecchi – Valsecchi is that rarest of breeds in F1 2013; an Italian racing driver. 26 years old, he is running out of time to make his name in the big-time arena of Formula One but took a significant step toward that when he claimed last year’s GP2 title, a result that netted him the seat he will occupy this Thursday.
Tio Ellinas – If Valsecchi is an oddity for being Italian, imagine what Ellinas feels like. It might have a population of a mere 1 million, but Cyprus expects this man to restore a sporting history that has been somewhat flagging since the unrest of the 1974 war. Ellinas is the current GP3 championship leader and aims to make his case for a drive in the top flight in the coming seasons by using his drive on Wednesday (his prize for being the highest-placed GP3 Marussia driver in 2012) to demonstrate the skills that have seen him win in categories including British Formula Ford, Formula Renault, and the fearsome Formula Ford Festival.
Rodolfo Gonzalez – If you didn’t see him in action at the Nurbrgring during FP1 a fortnight ago, take a look back at the tapes. You can’t miss this flamboyant Venezuelan with his carnival-istic helmet design! Gonzalez has previous experience with the machinery he’ll be handling on Thursday and Friday, so he’s expected to make more of an impact than some of the other rookies trying their hand for the first time. He has his work cut out however – his 80 races in GP2 thus far have yielded a meagre 10 points.
Kevin Magnussen – Son of the former McLaren and Stewart Grand Prix driver Jan, Magnussen already holds an FIA Superlicence thanks to his efforts in last November’s Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi. The Dane got to grips with the MP4/27 in impressive style and set the fastest time of the week at the tender age of 20. Expect more from him this week.
Oliver Turvey – The first of a brace of Brits competing for McLaren this week, Turvey is a student of the Racing Steps Foundation and winner of the 2006 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. A Cambridge graduate, Turvey is a fully-fledged engineer alongside his exploits in GP2 as a racing driver and McLaren will be hoping that background gives them some detailed feedback when he drives on Thursday.
Gary Paffett – He’s the stalwart of McLaren test days, the back-up Brit with the sterling DTM record has fulfilled his current role with quiet dignity since 2006. Aged 32, Paffett must realise he is never likely to get a foothold in a race seat any more, but his devotion to his duties have been rewarded with the chance to show his mettle in front of a home crowd on Friday.
Antonio Felix da Costa – Red Bull’s hotshot from Portugal, Costa is the reigning Macau GP Champion and proven GP3 race winner. This man is a serious threat to the hopes of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne who hope to fill the retiring Mark Webber’s shoes in 2014, and with an RB9 under him this weekend, Costa will be going all-out to impress.
Carlos Sainz Jr – While his father chose rallying, Sainz Jr chose circuit racing. All too often sons of racing drivers are proven to be there on money rather than talent, but this is not true of Carlos. Aged just 18, he has already won races in British Formula 3 and the F3 Euroseries. Having said that, he is not a candidate for an F1 drive just yet; but this is a chance for him to showcase his skills in one of Formula One’s fastest cars.
Robin Frijns – The first man to win the Formula Renault 3.5 series in his maiden season since Robert Kubica must have talent in abundance – and Frijns is that man. After turning down two offers from Red Bull to join their driver development program, Frijns claimed the Austrian drinks giant treats its drivers ‘like dogs’. He’s certainly not short of courage and faith in his ability then, as not many would snub such an offer. Already a GP2 race winner in 2013, the Dutchman has shown he does not need the reigning F1 World Champions to hold his hand in the lower formulae and hence his appearance for Sauber on Wednesday.
Kimiya Sato – No, not Takuma – he’s too old nowadays. If Kimiya has half the fighting spirit his countryman had during his F1 tenure between 2004 and 2008, he’ll do just fine. His racing career in his 23 years as taken him from Japan to Britain via Macau, a race he has competed in twice but failed to win. He made up for that with his impressive showing in the 2012 German Formula Three series that saw him finish the year 3rd overall, and despite some what might see as a downward step to the Auto GP championship for 2013, he has done enough to earn a run in the ccokpit of the Sauber on Friday.
Daniel Juncadella – His relationship with uncle (and former Minardi driver) Luis Perez-Sala has stood him in good stead, and Juncadella has vindicated his place in motorsport’s junior categories with a string of Championship successes over 2011-2012. Macau Grand Prix winner, Formula 3 Euro Series Champion, FIA European Formula 3 Champion and Masters of Formula 3 Champion – The Spaniard has won them all. Following the unusual career path of Paul Di Resta into DTM for 2013 might not have been the greatest choice for him if he is to break into Formula One as the Scot’s circumstances were rather beneficial, but he will take his place behind an F1 wheel for Williams at Silverstone.
Susie Wolff – The biggest draw of the week? Susie will be the first female to compete in a bonafide FIA-sanctioned F1 session on Friday since Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for Brabham at the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix. Suffice to say it is unlikely Susie will be 4 seconds off the pace of Thursday’s race driver Pastor Maldonado, for she has a significantly more illustrious motorsport pedigree than her Italian predecessor. Whatever she does, Friday will be a historic day in F1 history.
Johnny Cecotto Jr – Another son of a former racer (Johnny Senior was Venezuela’s first F1 driver), Johnny finished 9th in the 2012 GP2 season with victories in Monaco and at the Hockenheimring to his credit. A regular visitor to the gravel trap, he has to prove his worth on Wednesday in his first full day of testing for Toro Rosso.
Daniil Kvyat – Fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and of course his native Russian, Daniil is one of the most promising young talents to emerge from the former Soviet Union ever. Top 3 championship finishes in Formula Renault 2.0 in both 2011 and 2012 and victory in last years Formula Renault 2.0 Alps series sets him up well to impress for Toro Rosso on Friday morning.
James Calado – Britain’s next F1 driver? Calado is another product of the Racing Steps Foundation and has achieved the results to merit the investment; 5th in the 2012 GP2 championship standings showed his speed in his first full season in the category, and 4 podiums in the 2013 season has enhanced his reputation further. An opportunity for him to market his name in front of the British fans.