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Who are they, anyway 2010 - A to M // A review of the Young Driver testing participants

Published by Christine

Last year, we had a bit more time to prepare for the Young Driver's Test in Jerez, but I felt that providing some background information on the new names taking part was really useful. I certainly learnt a lot, and we have seen plenty of those faces become regulars in the F1 paddock.

It's only days since the last race of the season, and to save on time and money, the teams are sticking around in Abu Dhabi to make the most of the Yas Marina track. I've compiled some details on those we expect to see in the garages over the next couple of days.

Mikhail Aleshin

Mikhail Aleshin
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

We've seen Petrov making headlines as the first Russian in Formula 1, but Aleshin was the first to win a big international single-seater race. Since then he has fallen to second place behind Petrov, but he comes into this test as champion of the Formula Renault 3.5 series - hence his temporary place at Renault.

  • Age: 23
  • Nationality: Russian
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): Renault
  • Notable Achievements: 1st Formula Renault 2000 Italia 2004, 2nd Formula Renault 2.0 Germany 2005, 2rd FIA Formula Two Championship 2009, 1st Formula Renault 3.5 Series 2010

Jérôme d'Ambrosio

Jérôme D'Ambrosio
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Jérôme has been a familiar face in the paddock this year, as he was signed up to be Renault test driver early on, and was loaned out to Virgin Racing for Friday practice sessions. Now he gets another chance with both teams.

  • Age: 24
  • Nationality: Belgian
  • F1 experience: Test driver for Renault
  • Team(s): Renault
  • Notable Achievements: 3rd Formula Renault 2.0, Italia Winter Series 2005, 1st International Formula Master 2007, 2nd GP2 Asia Series 2008/9

Vladimir Arabadzhiev

Vladimir Arabadzhiev
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

There isn't an enormous amount known about Arabadzhiev, apart from having a rather complicated name. He's on the older end of the Young Driver scale, and he hasn't finished higher than 20th in any GP2 related activities recently. It's unlikely he's in the frame for a Lotus race seat, but it will be interesting to see what he can do out on track.

  • Age: 30
  • Nationality: Bulgarian
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): Lotus Racing
  • Notable Achievements: 28th GP2 2010, 20th GP2 Asia 2009/10

Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Jules featured in the Jerez Young Driver test last year, and he's back in the car for Ferrari in Abu Dhabi. He's been spending his time participating in GP2, and this year he finished the series third. Once again, it's unlikely he's in the frame for a Ferrari drive, but keeping in with the red team can't be a bad idea.

  • Age: 21
  • Nationality: French
  • F1 experience: Young Driver Test 2009
  • Team(s): Ferrari
  • Notable Achievements: 1st in French Formula Renault 2007, 3rd then 1st in F3 Euroseries 2008-09, 3rd GP2 2010

Sam Bird

Sam Bird
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Sam Bird has been linked with F1 for several years now, initially with Williams. He's completed a few straight line tests along the way, but it is to Mercedes he now turns his attention. He's another driver been spending his time in GP2, driving for ART Grand Prix.

  • Age: 23
  • Nationality: British
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): Mercedes
  • Notable Achievements: 2nd Formula BMW UK 2005, 4th British Formula Three 2007, 3rd Macau Grand Prix 2009, 7th GP2 Asia 2009-2010, 5th GP2 2010

Yelmer Buurman

Yelmer Buurman
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

When I read the news that Yelmer was to be driving for Force India, I wondered where I had heard the name before, and of course it is from the brief few weekends I spent watching Franck Montagny participate in the Superleague Formula. I can't blame Buurman for wanting to move up from the football themed series.

  • Age: 23
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): Force India
  • Notable Achievements: 3rd Formula Renault 2000 Netherlands 2004, 2nd Superleague Formula 2008, 4th Superleague Formula 2009

António Félix da Costa

António Félix da Costa
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

According to the people's encyclopedia, Antonio's full name is: António Maria de Mello Breyner Félix da Costa. That is quite the mouthful, isn't it? He's a relative youngster compared to a lot of the drivers making an appearance this week, and did you know he has an older brother called Duarte who races touring cars.

  • Age: 19
  • Nationality: Portuguese
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): Force India
  • Notable Achievements: 2nd Formula Renault 2.0 NEC 2008, 3rd Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 2009, 7th Formula Three Euroseries 2010

Rodolfo González

Rodolfo González
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Rodolfo has been spending the last few years in the GP2 paddock, but he hasn't come anywhere near fighting for the championship whilst driving for the Arden International team. However, he has been brought in several times as a replacement for other drivers, so he's a bit of a super-sub.

  • Age: 19
  • Nationality: Portuguese
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): Force India
  • Notable Achievements: 2nd Formula Renault 2.0 NEC 2008, 3rd Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 2009, 7th Formula Three Euroseries 2010

Esteban Gutiérrez

Esteban Gutiérrez
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

We saw Esteban in the BMW Sauber car last year, and he is still linked with the team for the Abu Dhabi test as well. The Mexican won the first ever series of the brand new GP3 championship, driving for ART Grand Prix.

  • Age: 19
  • Nationality: Mexican
  • F1 experience: Young Driver Test 2009
  • Team(s): Sauber
  • Notable Achievements: 1st in Formula BMW Europe 2008, 9th in F3 Euroseries 2009, 1st GP3 2010

Rio Haryanto

Rio Haryanto
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Rio has picked up a test seat with Virgin Racing after finishing the GP3 series as the highest-placed Manor car - Virgin and Manor being best friends, of course. The 17 year old also finished first in one of the Formula BMW series in 2009.

  • Age: 17
  • Nationality: Indonesian
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): Virgin Racing
  • Notable Achievements: 3rd Formula Asia 2.0 2008, 1st Formula BMW Pacific 2009, 5th GP3 Series 2010

Josef Král

Josef Král
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Kral has been driving for Super Nova Racing in both the GP2 and GP2 Asia series this year. If he did manage to graduate to F1, he'd be the second driver from the Czech Republic, following in the footsteps Tomas Enge.

  • Age: 20
  • Nationality: Czech
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): HRT
  • Notable Achievements: 3rd Czech Formula 1400 2005, 2nd Formula BMW UK 2007, 3rd International Formula Master 2009, 26th GP2 Series 2010

Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado
Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

This is the name on everyone's lips at the moment, as the Venezuelan driver brings plenty of cash with him to the paddock. Rumour has it that he will be signed up to Williams for 2011, so this test will be crucial if he wants to sign on the dotted line.

  • Age: 25
  • Nationality: Venezuelan
  • F1 experience: None
  • Team(s): Williams, HRT
  • Notable Achievements: 5th GP2 2008, 6th GP2 2009, 1st GP2 2010

That's a lot of new names to remember for what is essentially a two-day test, but guess what? You've got the second half of the alphabet to come very shortly. We've got you covered!

All content in the series Abu Dhabi Testing November 2010