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Young Driver test 2010 - A review - Who shone in the recent F1 post-season test at Yas Marina

Published by Christine

Yesterday, in the comments, I joked that all the drivers were saying they'd had a good time and were looking forward to getting a job in a team. That wouldn't make a very interesting post, I said. However, on further investigation, there are a few things that can be gleaned from an enormous amount of quotes and interviews.

Thanks for having me

Dean Stoneman takes it all in at Williams
Dean Stoneman takes it all in at WilliamsCredit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT

Firstly, there are those who were just glad to be invited. Sam Bird spent some time with Mercedes and was really happy with his performance. He was third fastest on the second day, which is a pretty good spot to be, but with a GP2 drive in the works, he's not looking to F1 just yet.

It's my first proper outing around a track in a grand prix car and it has been unforgettable. The last two days have been a really good experience and everyone at Mercedes has really made me feel at home. It's a great bunch of people here that I'm working with so I really enjoyed it.

- Sam Bird

Dean Stoneman had a day in the Williams car, but even before that he felt like he was getting a good education.

I've learned a huge amount even from being here at the weekend on the Saturday, just roaming around watching the teams. We watched the F1 on TV, but being here with the right people and being noticed by important people is where we've got to be.

- Dean Stoneman

Superleague Formula driver Yelmer Buurman was granted access to the Force India garage, and enjoyed himself, even though his day was frustrated by some mechanical troubles. He's not looking for an F1 drive just yet, but admits that's the aim.

I always knew that I wanted to be a racing driver and once you know what F1 means that you always want to be in F1. So to finally drive the car is awesome, of course. It was a really awesome day.

It didn't go completely to plan, which was a shame. But still the first day in the car was amazing.

Everyone tells you it's so much better than GP2 and everything else, but you don't know it until you've done it and it's really a lot better than anything else and a lot more than you expect.

- Yelmer Buurman

This is my density

Mikhail meets the team
Mikhail meets the teamCredit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT

Renault 3.5 champion Mikhail Aleshin enjoyed plenty of laps in the yellow car, but wished for a few more. He spent some time in the garage due to a hydraulic problem, and believes he could have caught up to Daniel Ricciardo's pace if that hadn't happened.

We are aiming for a race seat next year. I'm quite confident on this.

- Mikhail Aleshin

Renault have said they are leaning towards retaining Petrov, whilst still looking at other options - would they take a chance on another rookie? Or does Mikhail have another team in mind?

Jérôme D'Ambrosio may also be in consideration for the Renault seat, after driving for both them and Virgin Racing. He's spent the latter half of the F1 season experiencing first practice in the Virgin car, and has been test driver for Renault as well. Between the two teams, he's hopeful of some kind of contract for 2011, although he's coy on any specifics. What Jérôme is good at, is being polite to both sides!

In terms of car performance, you cannot compare it. You cannot compare Renault, who have years and years of F1 and Virgin, which is a rookie team. They have done massively well compared to the other rookies and I've enjoyed being with them. Today was something exceptional as well. Renault is a top team and driving the car was fantastic.

- Jérôme D'Ambrosio

It would be remiss of me not to put Daniel Ricciardo in this category, as the Australian dominated the Young Driver test both in 2009, and now in 2010. It must be time for him to move up to an F1 role, surely? He is already a popular voice on the Red Bull podcast, and he's a popular chat. More importantly, he thinks he is ready.

I think it's hard to know when you're exactly ready but I think I've done quite a bit now in the junior categories and now this is my fourth proper day in an F1 car, so it's probably as much as you're going to get at this age, and with limited testing it's not easy.

- Daniel Ricciardo

He's our man

Pérez gets to grips with F1.
Pérez gets to grips with F1.Credit: BMW Sauber

Of course, Sergio Pérez was the only guy running out there in Abu Dhabi who knew that he had an F1 race seat sorted for 2011. His first taste of the Sauber machinery was important to him, and getting a head start on meeting the team also works. Sergio admits that he is very bad with names, and there's a whole heap of new people he's going to have to memorise.

It was very important for me to get used to this world because it's very different to GP2. A lot of things and a lot of people come into your head. It was very, very important for me to do this.

- Sergio Pérez

By the end of the day, Pérez admitted that his neck was a little sore - the step up to GP2 was more than he'd anticipated, and he has a lot of work to do over the winter. Don't worry, though, Sergio, so does your team!

It was a fascinating test to watch, if only to be introduced to some of the newer names that may become paddock regulars in the future. We waved goodbye to Bridgestone, and the tyre supplier left in style as the lap times plummeted. Now it's over to Pirelli and our regular drivers to see what they can do.

All content in the series Abu Dhabi Testing November 2010