Fast track: F1 teams audition future stars

    Story highlights

    • The 12 Formula One teams are testing young drivers in Abu Dhabi
    • The three-day event is taking place in Abu Dhabi
    • Red Bull's Jean-Eric Vergne set the pace at Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday
    Sebastian Vettel has blazed a trail in Formula One's history books by becoming the youngest double world champion, but his Red Bull team bosses are already looking for their next star driver.
    The all-conquering Austrian marque, along with the 11 other teams on the F1 grid, are in Abu Dhabi for three days of testing with some of the brightest young talents in motorsport.
    Having remained at the Yas Marina Circuit following Sunday's grand prix, which was won by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, the teams will put a number of potential future world champions through their paces between Tuesday and Thursday.
    One such prospect is Jean-Eric Vergne, the 21-year-old Toro Rosso test driver who finished second in the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 series and has been given the chance to drive Red Bull's imperious RB7 car.
    Despite having an unfamiliar name at the wheel, the results on Tuesday bore an uncanny resemblance to those which have been witnessed in the sport for the last two years.
    Red Bull once again left the other teams trailing in their wake, only this time it was French youngster Vergne leading the field -- his lap of one minute 40.011 seconds beating Ferrari test driver Jules Bianchi into second place.
    "That was a fantastic day for me," Vergne, who will drive for Red Bull on all three days, told the sport's official website. "Driving the world championship-winning car is just great and I liked every lap I did out there.
    Bianchi has been handed the chance to take to the track for legendary Italian marque Ferrari at the test event for the second year in a row.
    "It's great to be back at the wheel of a Ferrari on a real track," the 22-year-old said.
    The Frenchman also races for Lotus ART in the GP2 Series, where he has ended the season third after one victory and five podium finishes.
    The GP2 Series has long been a production line for F1 talent, with the competition having been the brainchild of former Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and one-time Renault boss Flavio Briatore.
    "I've already driven this car for some aerodynamic testing, but doing it at a real test is a whole different story," Bianchi said.
    "Now, I am looking forward to a further two days of testing and we hope to carry on as we have started, with a lot of kilometers completed and trouble-free running."
    Venezuela's Rodolfo Gonzalez is another GP2 graduate being given his chance to shine, taking to the cockpit for the CNN-sponsored Team Lotus on Tuesday.
    The 25-year-old hopes to emulate compatriot and Williams driver Pastor Maldonado in moving from the GP2 Asia Series to become the fifth driver from the South American country to compete in F1.
    "It's my dream to drive in Formula One so I'm really very thankful for this opportunity," said Gonzalez. "I think I've showed I have potential with the lap times I did, and am pleased with my times overall.
    "I've proved I can do the job and have really enjoyed this experience in the car and learned a lot for my future.
    "Knowing there are two more days still to do, just makes me smile more. It's a great opportunity ... I'm trying to learn as much as possible and get as much as possible out of it."
    British team Williams are running GP3 champion Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Formula Two titleholder Mirko Bortolotti of Italy.
    "I really enjoyed my first time driving the car on a proper track today," the 22-year-old Bottas said. "It didn't take too long to get used to the car but there were still a few new things for me. There is much more downforce and power than the cars I am used to driving, but I really liked it and I think the day went well."