Formula 1's three-day young driver test got underway Wednesday morning at Silverstone.
Daniel Ricciardo's crucial outing for Red Bull is set to be the biggest story of the day, with the Australian having the chance to make his case to land the vacant seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen for 2014.
While a strong performance in this test will not guarantee him the seat, Red Bull will have a number of specific performance areas on which to evaluate Ricciardo. But he will not run until this afternoon, with highly rated Red Bull Junior Team member Antonio Felix da Costa driving during the morning.
This could also be a defining test for GP2 ace James Calado, who will have his first outing for Force India this morning before handing over to Paul di Resta for the afternoon. Calado has been earmarked for potential Friday morning practice outings later in the year, but the team will make a final decision on him once he has driven the car during this test.
Daniel Juncadella, winner of the 2011 Macau GP, will make his F1 test debut for Williams, with GP3 championship leader Tio Ellinas making his bow for Marussia this morning.
The other main story of the test will be the new specification of Pirelli tires, which will be used from the Hungarian Grand Prix onward. Teams will run the soft, medium and hard compounds (no team selected the super-soft), with an extra five sets of tires added to the previous year-long testing allocation of 100 given to each team to cover both pre-season testing and the young driver running.
Pirelli has also allocated seven extra sets of tires (three hard, to medium and two prototype hards as tried in free practice for the Canadian and British GPs) for use by race drivers.
"The experience of the race drivers is bound to bring a lot and we look forward to hearing their feedback," said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery. "We're not expecting the new specification of tire to feel considerably different to the previous specification to drive and the general characteristics should be similar. Nonetheless, there will be plenty of useful work that the teams should be able to carry out within the next three days."
Race drivers are only allowed to run on the proviso they run to plans supplied by Pirelli. All teams except McLaren plan to run race drivers at some point this week, with Marussia's Max Chilton set to be the only driver to run for his regular team today.
Mercedes has been banned from taking part in the Silverstone test, but will still have access to Pirelli's tire data from across the three days.
Silverstone test lineup as announced by teams so far:
||di Resta *
||van der Garde/Pic
* The driving schedule will be confirmed each morning