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GP Week : Issue 106
FINLAND’s Valtteri Bottas will remain as Williams' official test and reserve driver in 2011, the team has confirmed. Bottas is managed by Williams shareholder Toto Wolff and finished third for the second year in a row in the Formula 3 Euro Series this season, beaten by Signature duo Edoardo Mortara and Marco Wittmann. “ Valtteri fought hard for his third place in this year's Formula 3 Euroseries, taking two wins and six podiums in a very competitive year,” said team principal Frank Williams. “He also set a record with his second consecutive victory in the Formula 3 Masters. He has worked hard both on and off the track and learnt a great deal. We continue to see talent, discipline and dedication and are happy to help foster that further in 2011.” 21-year-old Bottas intends to move up to GP2 next season and will test for ART at the post- season GP2 test at Abu Dhabi in November. F1 NEWS >> FORMULA One teams are close to finalising their pre- season testing schedule, with a total of four events expected to feature. Although team principals are yet to officially rubber- stamp the proposed schedule, it's expected that the circus will visit Valencia, Jerez, Barcelona and Bahrain in February and March before the season proper gets underway in the Persian Gulf on March 13. The provisional calendar has the first pre-season test taking place between February 1 and 3 (Tuesday to Thursday) at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit on the outskirts of Valencia, likely to be the venue for numerous car launches on the Monday. Teams will then head south to Jerez for a four-day test the following week, from February 10 to 13 (Thursday to Sunday). Two further sessions will then take place before the start of the season, one four-day outing in Barcelona on February 18 to 21 (Friday to Monday), with the final pre-season test session expected to be held in Bahrain between March 3 and 6 (Thursday to Sunday), precisely a week before the season-opening Grand Prix at the same venue. GPWEEK understands that team principals have not yet finalised agreement on the testing plan, although changes to the provisional schedule at this juncture are unlikely. Before the end of the year, teams have four days of post- season testing in Abu Dhabi, following the season-ending grand prix in mid-November. Two days of young driver testing will take place at the Yas Marina Circuit between the 16th and 17th of November (Tuesday and Wednesday), just days after the grand prix. Only drivers who have competed in two or fewer Formula One Grands Prix are allowed to run. The two-day young driver test will be Formula One's last action on Bridgestone tyres, before they switch to Pirelli rubber for a special two-day tyre test on the 19th and 20th (Friday and Saturday). The test will be the teams' first experience of running Pirelli tyres on-track, although usual testing restrictions will limit them to one car each. 2011 test schedule takes shape Sam Bird to test for mercedes in abu Dhabi 15 days and 4 sessions on the cards GP2 race winner Sam Bird will test for Mercedes this month, after the Brackley- based team confirmed the Briton as their driver for the two-day young driver test in Abu Dhabi in mid-November. The 23- year-old Briton is racing in his first year of GP2 with ART this season and is currently placed fifth in the standings with one race weekend remaining. Bird has risen through the ranks of Formula BMW, Formula Renault and Formula 3 since making his debut in single-seaters in 2004, with a second place finish in the 2005 Formula BMW UK championship being his biggest achievement to date. Last year he finished eighth in the Formula 3 Euro Series and has gone on to take one race win and a further three podium finishes in his debut GP2 season this year. “Sam has done an impressive job in the GP2 Series during his first season. He is the highest-placed rookie in the championship order with some excellent results over the year,” said Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. “We are very pleased that Sam will be joining Mercedes GP Petronas for the Young Driver test next month and are confident that he will provide the team with the essential consistency and feedback we require. “This is also an excellent chance for Sam to continue his progression in motorsport and widen his experience of Formula One. Sam has been chosen due to his relevant current single-seater pedigree through his competition in GP2, the F3 Euroseries and British F3 and as an added bonus, he will have experience of the track from his GP2 racing over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. We look forward to working with Sam at the test and to seeing his progress and feedback over the two days.” Sam Bird already has links to Mercedes as Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, explains: “For the upcoming Young Driver test days in Abu Dhabi, it was important for us to find a young and talented driver with single- seater and preferably GP2 experience. Sam Bird, who competed in the F3 Euro Series last year with our DTM partner team Mücke Motorsport before he progressed to the ART team in GP2, who are also partners with Mercedes-Benz in F3, fulfils these requirements,” said Norbert. “With the experience that Sam will gain during the GP2 races in Abu Dhabi, I am sure he will be well prepared for the test.” The young driver test takes place two days after the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on November 16 and 17 (Tuesday and Wednesday). 11