A growing array of F1 teams have been developing young driver programs over the past few years. BMW ranked high among them while competing in the top-tier racing series, but in its absence, the teams it partnered with have picked up the proverbial mantle.

Williams Grand Prix, which ran with BMW engines and factory support from 2000-2005, is giving a test drive to one Dean Stoneman. The 20-year-old Brit recently won the Formula 2 title, a series to which Williams supplies the spec chassis.

After parting company with Williams, BMW acquired the Sauber F1 team, from which it has since divested. The Swiss outfit has likewise announced the signing of Esteban Gutierrez – pictured right, with Peter Sauber – as its test and reserve driver for next season.

The 19-year-old Mexican driver, who's been affiliated with the team for a couple of years now, recently claimed the championship in the new GP3 series, driving for the ART Grand Prix team run by Nicolas Todt, manager of former Sauber driver (and current Ferrari pilot) Felipe Massa, and son of FIA president and former Ferrari chief Jean Todt. Ferrari has had longstanding ties with Sauber, and currently supplies their engines.

Both drivers will be lining up alongside other aspiring talents at the post-season F1 young driver test in Abu Dhabi this coming November.

[Sources: Autosport, pitpass]