ABU DHABI // Opportunity knocks for a crop of drivers this week at Yas Marina Circuit as they seek to prove they have what it takes to compete in Formula One in the future.
The three-day Young Drivers Test takes place for a third time in Abu Dhabi, with the action beginning tomorrow.
Unlike last year, when all 12 teams took part, this time only six have remained at Yas Marina for the test following Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Red Bull Racing, McLaren-Mercedes, Lotus, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Caterham are all taking part as the drivers they are running seek to take advantage of a rare opportunity to get behind the wheel of an F1 car, because of the current ban on in-season testing other than three days in Italy in May.
The other six teams have already completed their tests earlier in the campaign in a bid to avoid a busy end to a year that means the teams remaining in Abu Dhabi will have had five consecutive weeks on the road before the season culminates in Brazil at the end of the month.
Ferrari, Mercedes-GP and Force India completed their test in September at Magny-Cours in France and the Williams, Marussia and the HRT teams ran at Silverstone in England in July, meaning they were not eligible to test in Abu Dhabi.
Max Chilton, the Marussia reserve driver who took part in last year's test with Force India and drove again in July for his current team at Silverstone, said the test is a great chance to show what a racer can do while learning about working with F1 engineers and car set-up.
The 21-year-old Briton, who drove in practice for Marussia on Friday during the grand prix weekend and is expected to race for the team next season, said: "With no testing, the opportunities to actually get behind the wheel of a F1 car are not that high, so to get to spend two or three days driving, and working with a team, is a great opportunity."
Of his memories of the tests, he said: "I remember I was quite nervous for the test here, but the team were excellent and helped me feel comfortable in no time.
"It is a really good experience as you learn a lot, learn how to work closely with the engineers, and I felt it really helped me realise what I needed to work on and learn from if I want to race in F1 one day."
The test has proven to be a good stepping stone to F1. Of the 24 drivers who drove in Sunday's race, six have taken part in a Young Drivers Test.
That included Charles Pic, the Marussia driver, who competed for the Russian-backed team in Abu Dhabi 12 months ago before getting the race seat with them this year.
The Frenchman said he had enjoyed the test and found it a great help in preparing for F1.
He said: "It was my first test in F1 so everything was going a little bit fast. It was a great memory. It went very well, the team was very nice with me and so it is a great memory."
Of any advice that he would give this year's drivers taking part, Pic said: "You are focused on what you have to do, that's it.
"For sure you have some stress, which is normal but you have to carry your focus."
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