Lotus F1 Team has confirmed which drivers they will be putting on the track for the Young Driver Test which will take place at the home of the British Grand Prix; Silverstone Circuit. Lotus will put both of their test drivers, Nicolas Prost and Davide Valsecchi, on the track with Prost in the cockpit for day one and Valsecchi at the wheel the second day. Kimi Raikkonen will take over for the final day of the event, which has been modified to also include a tire test session.
Prost is the son of legendary, four-time Formula 1 World Champion Alain Prost and in addition to testing for Lotus has been participating in the FIA World Endurance Championship. This isn’t the young Frenchman’s first time to pilot a Lotus F1 car, as he also participated in the 2012 Young Drivers Test as a member of the team.
Valsecchi also took part in the 2012 Young Drivers test for Lotus and has been in the cockpit of the 2013 Lotus machine as well. The Italian wheel man got some limited action in the E21 during pre-season testing due to Raikkonen falling ill. Valsecchi’s name has been circulating in the rumor mill lately as part of the millions of possible “What if?” scenarios that could play out regarding Lotus’ 2014 driver line-up.
Valsecchi would be a good choice to bring in and pair up with Romain Grosjean should Raikkonen part ways with Lotus in favor of Red Bull Racing. Of course if Kimi stays Valsecchi could still be called up to replace Grosjean should he continue to struggle and not show the improvement that Lotus expected of him this season. If there is any truth to the whispers of current Sauber F1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg having talked with Lotus about a 2014 ride, then the number of possible driver pairs gets even wilder.
Regardless of what is being chatted about and tossed around by the media, Valsecchi needs to treat this drive like what it really is: an audition for a race seat. Prost should do the same, because even though he is likely a few seasons away from a race seat the possibility of seeing the names “Raikkonen” and “Prost” billed together should make every Formula One fan giddy.
Raikkonen will be charged with providing feedback on the upgraded Pirelli tires that will be tested during the event. Silverstone was the scene of insane amounts of tire drama during the British GP so it is fitting that the teams would return to the circuit to give the new rubber a go and find out if Pirelli has fixed their reliability issues. The switch to Kevlar-belted tires over steel-belted ones for the German Grand Prix seemed to pay off, so hopefully the tire manufacturer is close to resolving the problem.
The Young Driver Test will take place from July 17-19, providing a bit of excitement during the long break between the German GP and the next race on the schedule; the Hungarian Grand Prix slated for July 26-28.