Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will both miss next week's Pirelli tire test in Abu Dhabi, with McLaren the only front-running team that will not use a current race driver for the two-day run.
Pirelli is giving Formula 1 teams the first chance to try out its development rubber for the 2011 season next Friday and Saturday at the Yas Marina circuit, at the end of a week where teams will also be testing young drivers. Although most teams are using at least one of their current drivers for the test, McLaren has opted instead to not draft Button or Hamilton into action.
Instead, test driver Gary Paffett will drive on the final day of the young driver test (Wednesday) and the first day of the tire test (Friday), while McLaren junior driver Oliver Turvey will drive on the other two days (Tuesday and Saturday). Button said that he had initially hoped to drive at the Pirelli test but his McLaren team reckoned there was little benefit from him or Hamilton doing so.
"I wanted to do the test but the team said, 'We don't think it is really the best time for you to be testing the tire because it is going to change a lot.' And that is not through driver comment," Button said. "It is just the tire will change a lot before we can properly do some serious testing with the new car, and get useful information from a race drivers' point of view."
The other front-running teams have opted for different strategies for the test. Mercedes will split duties between Nico Rosberg (Friday) and Michael Schumacher (Saturday). Ferrari will also use its race drivers, with Felipe Massa running on Friday and Fernando Alonso on Saturday, as will Williams with Nico Hulkenberg (Friday) and Rubens Barrichello (Saturday).
Red Bull Racing will use just one driver – Sebastian Vettel – for both days, with Renault doing likewise and using Robert Kubica only.