The backers of young drivers are paying hundreds of thousands of euros to test Formula One cars in Abu Dhabi later this month.
We revealed recently that Swiss 22-year-old Fabio Leimer, 14th in this year’s GP2 standings, purchased his Sauber seat for the young driver test. Earlier, it emerged that Toro Rosso’s rides were open to the highest bidder at around the EUR 200,000 mark per day, with Sauber’s seat costing even more.
“Yes, we have had to pay for this test,” Leimer confirmed. “That’s just the way it is in Formula One, but first you have to be in the position to do so.”
It is a different story at the grandee teams. Red Bull (Jean-Eric Vergne), McLaren (Gary Paffett), Ferrari (Jules Bianchi) and Mercedes (Sam Bird) are taking the opportunity to give their preferred young chargers some rare test laps.
Elsewhere on the Yas Marina circuit, there will be some unfamiliar names like Kevin Korjus (Renault), Max Chilton (Force India), Stefano Coletti (Toro Rosso) and Dani Clos (HRT), while some highly rated young drivers like Christian Vietoris have missed out.
Auto Motor und Sport said the price-tags have been up to EUR 300,000 for a single test day in a midfield car.
“Success in the lower classes is no longer enough,” said the German magazine.
Of interest during the three-day young driver test, however, will be the debut of some “prototype tyres”, with Pirelli pushing ahead with development for the 2012 season.
And in Friday practice for the Abu Dhabi race, F1’s regulars will try two sets of “an experimental soft compound”, the official tyre supplier also announced.