The recent Abu Dhabi test saw many young drivers take to the track in F1 machinery for the first time - but despite a lack of experience their running could be vital for the 2012 championship.
Other than the practice sessions of this weekend's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, last week's young driver test was the final time teams will be able to do on-track testing until they return for pre-season running on February 7, 2012.
It therefore represented the only real opportunity for teams and tyre manufacturer Pirelli to test out their initial approach to the 2012 rules and gain important data to sift through in the off-season and aid the development on simulators and rigs when track testing is banned.
Williams and Mercedes were both seen trying out initial concepts for the new upward exiting exhausts that will be mandatory for next year, while Pirelli expanded on the 2012 tyre development they have already done with a major test on not only compound but also construction of their 2012 tyre designs.
Next year's regulations will force exhausts to exit from the top of the car and it is perhaps surprising that only two teams decided to trial the new concept on their current cars.
Arguably, the repositioning of exhausts - which is designed to stop them blowing into the diffuser and increasing the downforce generated by the floor of the car - will require a significant re-consideration of the rear end, and simply putting some top exiting exhausts on for this test may not have provided particularly meaningful results.
But Mercedes boss Ross Brawn saw the benefit and although admitting the design was compromised from having to fit around the existing car, he described it as an important "first interpretation" of the regulation.
Exiting the exhausts over the rear of the sidepods and into the flow to the rear wing will create a significant change in flow interaction in this area for 2012 and running with a simple version of this system will have given Williams and Mercedes some interesting, if basic, information regarding the balance between the loss of downforce from the diffuser and the gain of downforce from the rear wing.
If not all teams chose to test the 2012 car concepts that will already be near completion on the drawing board, they did all take the chance to try some 2012-generation tyres.
The two elements to tyre design are compound and construction, both of which contribute to tyre wear, and while Pirelli has already been experimenting with compound development in some of the Friday practice sessions, this test gave them the opportunity to explore the more significant construction changes they plan to make for next season.
The new constructions are designed to make tyre wear more predictable and enable Pirelli to have the confidence to reduce the performance gap between each compound so that more strategic choice comes into play.
Teams were able to run both 2011 and 2012 tyres during the test, giving them vital back-to-back data that will help in off-season simulations and car development.
They will have to be careful with how they use this information, however, as Pirelli modified the tyres significantly between the post-season test and the start of their debut season this year and could well do the same again ahead of 2012.
The only problem with all of this is that while the data is valuable, many of the drivers that are collecting it are not as consistent as the race or test drivers would be.
Officially, teams can only run rookies in the 'young' driver test, but while many did give young drivers their first taste of F1 machinery, the classification of 'young' being simply having not done more than two Grands Prix means some top teams used test drivers who quite a bit of F1 experience under their belt but have just not ever raced.
New drivers included Kevin Korjus (Renault); Max Chilton and Johnny Cecotto Jr (Force India); Stefano Coletti and Kevin Ceccon (Toro Rosso); Fabio Leimer (Sauber); Valtteri Bottas (Williams); and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Charles Pic (Virgin).
Red Bull, meanwhile, used Jean-Eric Vergne for their three days of running, who had been prepped nicely not only with regular running in their simulator but with two practice sessions in the Toro Rosso, including one on the Abu Dhabi circuit, and a run in a Toro Rosso in last year's young driver test.
McLaren went for even more experience by running Gary Paffett, who had his first test with them in 2001 and has clocked up 67 test days in total, making him far from a novice driver in development feedback. Oliver Turvey also did two days, and he is experienced too with his first test for them in 2009 and now six days of running complete.
For those teams, having that level of quality feedback will offer a valuable advantage over rivals running with rookies, making the data collected that bit more valuable as they prepare for 2012.