Mercedes set to run 20-year-old in Abu Dhabi

Mercedes are without a test driver following the departure of Nyck de Vries to AlphaTauri

In Abu Dhabi, at the end of the season, Pirelli will be conducting their final 2023 tyre tests, with all teams required to nominate an established driver and a rookie to take part in the tests.

Most teams have a rookie reserve driver, who we have seen deployed in recent weeks during the mandatory young driver practice sessions in Austin and Mexico.

Mercedes however will find themselves without a rookie to put into the W13 come the Abu Dhabi tests, with Nyck de Vries, who drove for the team in FP1 in Mexico, having joined AlphaTauri for those tests before linking up with the team for next season.

20-year-old driver Frederik Vesti now looks the favourite to test for Mercedes, with the Dane having signed as a Mercedes junior driver earlier last year.

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Vesti currently sits eighth in the F2 championship, racing for ART and has shown glimpses of his quality at times, winning the sprint race in Baku and picking up four podiums.

The Danish driver has been put in the same bracket as Oscar Piastri, Logan Sargeant and Theo Pourchaire, showing that he is highly rated by those in the sport.

The opportunity to drive the W13 would be one that Vesti would be unable to turn down, with it being his first chance to drive a Formula 1 car as he hunts for a full time seat in the future.

The 20-year-old has been doing some simulator driving at the Mercedes hub in Brackley, with usual test driver Stoffel Vandoorne set to join Aston Martin as a test and reserve driver for 2023.

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The tests will be mutually beneficial for the teams and Pirelli because the definitive 2023 tyres will be run allowing both to get a feel for how they run and degrade ahead of their debut next season. 

Drivers have already had to drive with the 2023 tyres at the past two Grand Prix, with Pirelli tyre tests becoming a regular occurrence towards the backend of the season.

Should he be chosen, the Abu Dhabi test will provide Mercedes a chance to look at Vesti in an F1 car, with the Dane looking to impress his employers and throw his name into the mix for the future of F1 drivers.