Renault have today announced the three drivers chosen for the Abu Dhabi Young Drivers Test next week: Robert Wickens will be in the R31 on Tuesday, Kevin Korjus on Wednesday, and Jan Charouz will round off the test on Thursday.
Wickens, who is Canadian, won this season’s Formula Renault 3.5 with Carlin Motorsport, and last year was runner-up in the GP3 championship. In 2009, he finished second in the Formula 2 title race.
“I'm really excited – I think it's every kid's dream to drive a Formula 1 car,” said Wickens. “I can't wait to drive the Lotus Renault on Tuesday; I have been waiting a long time. Obviously I'm confident having won the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship; that was a big achievement for me and it just proves to myself I'm capable of doing something like this.
“I feel like I'm ready for Formula 1 and I think driving the car in Abu Dhabi will be kind of a true test. All year, my goal in World Series was to win the Championship and to get this drive, so hopefully I can make the most of the opportunity and put in some competitive lap times.”
Korjus became the youngest driver ever to win a race in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, and was also 2010 Formula Renault 2.0 champion:
“It's the most exciting moment of my life and now, as it's only a few days left, I'm really looking forward to it,” said the Estonian. “I will be driving on the Wednesday and I'm very much looking forward to this event. It will be such a huge experience for me.
“I was in Enstone last week to ensure my seat and meet all the guys, and I also learned a little bit about the steering wheel because there are so many patterns – it was a lot to take in. I also talked with the engineers about what we are going to do in Abu Dhabi.
“It will be my first ever time in a F1 car and my first time in the emirate. Everything is new for me and it's extremely exciting to learn about it. I'm ready to get in the car.”
Charouz is one of the small army of reserve drivers that Renault employ. The Czech driver won the 2009 Le Mans Series season and took fourth place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year: “I'm very excited to go to Abu Dhabi; it is a great opportunity to get some mileage in the R31 this year,” said Charouz. “I have been doing some driving but nothing in this year's car yet, so I'm very excited to do that and also to work with the race team.”
Eric Boullier, team principal at Renault, said that there are a lot of young talented drivers out there, and that the test next week is their best chance to shine.
“The young driver test in Abu Dhabi in is a great opportunity for us to cast our eyes over potential future stars of the sport,” he said. “With a plethora of young hopefuls out there, we hope to spot very strong contenders for future F1 seats. As the season draws to a close, this three day test will pit the wits of the three drivers against this challenging circuit. We look forward to seeing how they get on.”