Since being added to the schedule two years ago to throw teams' young proteges a lifeline amid the testing ban, the now-annual young driver test has become an increasingly important event for those on the cusp of Formula 1.
As this year's line-up proves, some teams are looking for a budget boost from their choice of drivers for the three days of running in Abu Dhabi, while some are using well-established testers for valuable development work - but for others the test is a genuine chance for potential future race-winners to audition for F1 seats in either 2012 or the longer-term future.
Gary Paffett © LAT
Gary Paffett (McLaren)
2011 season: 7th in DTM
The long-time McLaren test driver has never started a grand prix, but has completed more than 20,000km in testing for the Woking team over the past decade.
Paffett has starred in the DTM since 2003, winning 16 races and the 2005 title, but his hopes of racing in Formula 1 have faded.
Oliver Turvey © LAT
Oliver Turvey (McLaren)
2011 season: 16th in GP2 Asia, one outing in GP2 main series
The 2006 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner spent most of this season on the sidelines after finishing sixth in GP2 last year and has concentrated on his simulator work for McLaren.
Has four days of testing for McLaren to his name and completed 115 laps in Abu Dhabi last November.
Jean-Eric Vergne © LAT
Jean Eric Vergne (Red Bull)
2011 season: 2nd in Formula Renault 3.5
The Frenchman took a close runner-up spot to Robert Wickens in Formula Renault 3.5 this season.
As a reward for his rapid career progress and valued simulator work for its F1 team, backer Red Bull handed Vergne Friday practice outings with Toro Rosso in the final three grands prix of the season.
The 2010 British Formula 3 champion will thus arrive in Abu Dhabi for three days in the championship-winning Red Bull with recent track experience.
Jules Bianchi © LAT
Jules Bianchi (Ferrari)
2011 season: 3rd in GP2
Has had plenty of mileage in older Ferraris as part of the Scuderia's driver development programme, and has been in action in the young driver tests for the past two years.
The Frenchman's two seasons in GP2 didn't quite live up to the hype, but his junior single-seater record in the lower categories is impressive.
Sam Bird © LAT
Sam Bird (Mercedes)
2011: 6th in GP2
Reprises his role as Mercedes' choice of young driver 12 months after his debut F1 test with the team.
The Briton is coming off the back of a slightly disappointing second year in GP2 that yielded just three podiums and no victories, although he did manage to take pole in Monaco.
Jan Charouz © LAT
Jan Charouz (Renault)
2011 season: 25th in Formula Renault 3.5
One of a multitude of test and reserve drivers for Renault's F1 team since 2010, Charouz has participated in demonstration runs in Renault's year-old show car at select World Series by Renault meetings.
Results in Formula Renault 3.5 over the period, for P1 Motorsport and family team Gravity-Charouz, have been sparse.
The Czech participated in the recent GP2 Asia race in Abu Dhabi with Carlin.
Valtteri Bottas © LAT
Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
2011 season: GP3 champion
The Finn is set for his first proper test in an F1 car, having spent the past two years performing simulator work and straightline tests for Williams.
Bottas switched from F3 for 2011 and was a deserving GP3 champion, and while he missed out on the F3 Euro Series crown, he did become the first two-time winner of the prestigious F3 Masters event in 2010.
Mirko Bortolotti © LAT
Mirko Bortolotti (Williams)
2011 season: F2 champion
Despite being just 21, Bortolotti's Williams test - his prize for a dominant 2011 Formula 2 campaign - will be his third experience of F1 machinery.
The Italian has previously tested for Ferrari after winning the 2008 Italian F3 title, and completed over 100 laps for Toro Rosso in the 2009 young driver test at Jerez.
Max Chilton © LAT
Max Chilton (Force India)
2011 season: 20th in GP2
Chilton will make his F1 test debut with Force India in Abu Dhabi, having conducted straightline running with the squad at Kemble airfield in September.
The 20-year-old Brit is a British F3 race winner who's spent the past two seasons in GP2, where he has been faster than his results would suggest.
Johnny Cecotto Jr © LAT
Johnny Cecotto Jr (Force India)
2011 season: 24th in GP2
Son of the sometime Theodore and Toleman F1 racer, Cecotto Jr has competed in GP2 since late 2009 with limited success, taking a best result of fourth in the Monaco sprint race last year.
A race-winner in German F3 in 2008, he has also raced in F3000, Formula Master and Formula Renault.
Esteban Gutierrez © LAT
Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber)
2011 season: 13th in GP2
Despite his tender years, the Mexican has already tested for BMW (2009) and Sauber (2010).
Gutierrez goes into this outing with his first season of GP2 under his belt, which included a victory in the sprint race in Valencia. He won the inaugural GP3 Series title in 2010.
Fabio Leimer © LAT
Fabio Leimer (Sauber)
2011 season: 14th in GP2
Leimer was unfortunate to join reigning GP2 title-winning team Rapax as the Italian squad struggled to get to grips with the new car this year.
Two wins from two years in the category do not reflect the speed that he's shown on occasions, but his true level remains hard to gauge.
Stefano Coletti © LAT
Stefano Coletti (Toro Rosso)
2011 season: 11th in GP2
The Monegasque racer seems to have been around a lot longer than his 22 years suggest, but this will be his first taste of an F1 car.
His 2011 GP2 season was interrupted by a back injury at Spa - having also been sidelined in 2009 by a crash at the same track - but he still managed two wins with Trident.
Kevin Ceccon © LAT
Kevin Ceccon (Toro Rosso)
2011 season: Auto GP champion
The teenager took advantage of GP2 veteran Luca Filippi skipping a round of Auto GP to steal the title.
Given his lack of experience, he didn't disgrace himself when drafted into Coloni's GP2 line-up early in the season to replace the injured Davide Rigon.
Alexander Rossi © LAT
Alexander Rossi (Lotus)
2011 season: 3rd in Formula Renault 3.5
The American is the senior driver in AirAsia's Young Driver Programme, and justified his position by finishing as top rookie in an excellent 2011 season of Formula Renault 3.5.
Rossi was another to take in the recent Abu Dhabi GP2 Asia round.
The ex-Formula BMW America champion was previously a race winner in GP3, and has been a member of the FIA Institute Academy.
Luiz Razia © LAT
Luiz Razia (Lotus)
2011 season: 12th in GP2
The Brazilian is not a complete F1 rookie, having completed nine laps for Lotus during free practice in China in his capacity as its reserve driver.
A GP2 stalwart, and one-time sprint race winner, the 2006 SudAm F3 champion has also competed in Formula Renault 3.5 and F3000.
Dani Clos © LAT
Dani Clos (HRT)
2011 season: 9th in GP2
The Catalan would have hoped for more from his third season of GP2 than ninth, but he'll be looking forward to becoming reacquainted with F1 machinery after testing for Williams in 2008 and 2009.
CV includes F3 Euro Series and Formula Renault - he won the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 crown in 2006.
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs © LAT
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (Virgin)
2011 season: 5th in GP3
Quaife-Hobbs earned his test with Virgin by finishing as the highest-placed driver for the affiliated Manor Racing squad in GP3.
The Briton, who has performed straightline F1 test duties for Virgin already, kicked on in his second season in GP3, and this was despite having several weekends ruined by mechanical gremlins.
Robert Wickens © LAT
Robert Wickens (Virgin and Renault)
2011 season: Formula Renault 3.5 champion
Receives a prize maiden Renault test in contemporary machinery for winning this year's Formula Renault 3.5 drivers' crown, and a run in a Virgin where he has acted as the team's reserve driver since June.
The former F2 and GP3 series runner-up enjoyed a demonstration run in a year-old Renault show car at the Hungaroring as a prize for being this year's Formula Renault 3.5 mid-season points leader.
Charles Pic © LAT
Charles Pic (Virgin)
2011 season: 4th in GP2
The Frenchman is close to graduating to F1 in 2012 after winning races both in GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 during the last three years.
He was in the mix to finish second in GP2 this year after winning the feature race in Spain and the sprint race in Monaco.
Rodolfo Gonzalez © LAT
Rodolfo Gonzalez (Lotus)
2011: 26th in GP2
The Venezuelan ran for Lotus in last year's rookie test and returns for further action this year thanks more to his funding than his record of four points in 55 GP2 starts (including the Asia series) since 2009.
Won the 2006 British F3 national class against very shallow opposition.
Nathanael Berthon © LAT
Nathanael Berthon (HRT)
2011 season: 13th in Formula Renault 3.5, raced in GP2 Asia and the non-championship Abu Dhabi season finale
The Frenchman has a race win in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2010 to his name, although endured a difficult season campaign for ISR this year.
Comes into the young driver test off the back of a solid weekend competing in the non-championship GP2 race at Yas Marina, taking a ninth-place finish.
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