Bianchi testing for Ferrari in 2009. Photo: jules-bianchi.com
The limit on testing in Formula 1 makes it extremely difficult for aspiring Grand Prix drivers to gain experience behind the wheel of an F1 car. However, a number of teams have recently taken the opportunity to give mileage to young drivers…
GP2 driver and Sauber reserve Esteban Gutierrez conducted a straight-line aero test with the Swiss team at Vairano in Italy on the weekend before the Italian Grand Prix. Three other teams have conducted straight-line tests since the race. Virgin Racing were at Vairano on Tuesday, with reserve driver and Formula Renault 3.5 leader Robert Wickens getting his first chance to drive the team’s car.
On Wednesday it was the turn of Williams, who evaluated an upgrade for the final races of the season at Kemble in the UK with newly-crowned GP3 champion and Williams reserve Valtteri Bottas on driving duties. Then yesterday, Force India were at the same airfield and gave GP2 driver Max Chilton his very first taste of F1 machinery. Though Max isn’t an official driver of the team just yet, don’t be surprised to see the Brit in action for the team in the young driver test at Abu Dhabi later in the year.
Ferrari have also been in action this week, with GP2 driver Jules Bianchi joining fellow Ferrari Driver Academy pilot Sergio Perez at Fiorano in Italy behind the wheel of a 2009 car. The Frenchman helped the team to collect data to aid the correlation of its simulator, and was 0.437 seconds quicker than the Sauber race driver.
Finally, GP2 champion Romain Grosjean tested a 2009 Renault at Valencia for two days this week to help him get used to driving an F1 car again ahead of the final flyaway races where he will serve as reserve driver after Bruno Senna’s promotion to a race seat.