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De Vries leads the way as post-season test gets underway


Mercedes Nyck de Vries set the pace at the Yas Marina today as the Young Driver Test got underway alongside testing of the 18 inch wheels for 2022.

19 drivers were on duty, including new world champion Max Verstappen, with ten drivers focussing on next season's 18 inch tyres, albeit fitted to mule cars, while there were nine young drivers in action at the wheel of contemporary machinery.

While Haas ran Mick Schumacher in a mule car, it did not have a young driver present, however Robert Shwartzman will be in action tomorrow.

On the other hand, Williams is fielding young driver Logan Sargeant but is unable to take part in the 18-inch test as it does not have a mule car.

Among those on duty was new world champion, Max Verstappen, while Valtteri Bottas made his debut with Alfa Romeo and George Russell got to grips with the Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo was quickest of the 18-inch runners but eighth overall, giving a rough idea of the potential pace of the 2002 cars. Indeed, the Australian's best time (1:26.252) was 3s off the pace set by de Vries in the Young Driver test.

Other than Ricciardo, McLaren had Pato O'Ward on duty, the youngster finishing the day fourth overall.

"Today was awesome!" he said. "The car exceeded my expectations of what it's capable of - it's ridiculous how much grip there is, specifically in the fast corners - it's unbelievable.

"For sure, in the morning, my head was still on my neck. But towards the end of the day, I really think what ended up limiting me being able to go quicker was just not being able to hold my head up and see fully where I was going. My head actually was just looking down because I couldn't hold it up!

"It's such an awesome car. What a great experience, I didn't want the day to finish. I'd like to thank Zak, Andreas and everyone in the F1 team for supporting me through this incredible day."

"It's been a good day of testing to close out the 2021 season," added Ricciardo. "Getting some track time on the 2022 tyre has been really useful. We've managed to learn a lot and gather a load of data, which is useful heading into next season.

"There's still some bits we need to learn before we go racing next year but we're in a good place. Now I'm looking forward to getting home, catching up with family and taking some time off before we get back in the car in February."

"A very productive day," said Andrea Stella. "We obviously split the cars, with Daniel working on the 2022 tyres and Pato behind the wheel for the first time in a McLaren Formula 1, driving the 2021 car.

"It was very useful and interesting testing the 2022 tyres, with plenty of learning. We will review this data overnight and use it to prepare for day two as thoroughly as possible, with Lando at the wheel tomorrow. We've been very impressed with Pato's speed, his attitude and how rapidly he's learned. We look forward to another productive day tomorrow, before this long season comes to a close."

"What an amazing day," said Liam Lawson, who was second quickest in the AlphaTauri, "it's incredible how unbelievably fast these cars are.

"I've obviously driven in the simulator before and when I'm there I always think that there's no way that the car can actually be that quick in real life, but it really is. I want to say a huge thank you to Red Bull, Dr Marko and everyone that has made it possible to be here driving for Scuderia AlphaTauri today. This has been something that I've been dreaming about since I was a kid so it's just incredible and I'm really, really happy.

"I was definitely nervous pulling out of the garage for the first time, I tried not to show it, but I definitely felt it. It took me a little while to get to full throttle but when I did I thought 'holy moly that's a lot of power!' The biggest difference is just the downforce, there's significantly more than anything I'm used to. We worked on a lot of different things in the run plan today, both short and long runs with different tyres and one thing that was really cool and new to me was the live data.

"The ability to have the team update me as I'm out on track was really interesting, although you couldn't make a mistake without them knowing! Getting feedback from Yuki too was also really great, we've been teammates before, so it was good to get his understandings and learnings and it was nice to be back driving with him again. I really didn't want to get out of the car today, it's been amazing to get my first taste of F1."

"It was great to welcome Liam to the team to drive for us in the test here," said Jonathan Eddolls, the Faenza outfit's chief race engineer. "We completed a fantastic day of testing, covering a lot of kilometres in the car, so it should have been a very good learning experience for him. He adapted quickly to the handling and speed of the current Formula 1 machinery and after just the first couple of runs he had built up the pace to a level where we could start to complete some test items with him, to give him a feel of the car with a variety of car balances.

"We did the tests blind so that he had no preconceived ideas, and his technical feedback was targeted, focused on performance and aligned to the test items. Tyres are an important part of Formula 1, especially managing them over a race stint but also a single timed lap, so we exposed Liam to a variety of tyre status, run types and fuel loads. By the end of the day, he was able to manage and manipulate the temperatures to achieve the optimum lap time. It was a pleasure working with him and we can already see from this short working relationship that he has great potential and will have a very bright future in motorsport!"

"Liam Lawson drove for us today and I must say he did a very good job," said Franz Tost, "finishing 125 laps without any issues and his lap time was very competitive. He gave us good feedback throughout the day, we ran a lot of different set-ups with him and have gathered lots of really strong data. This will help us further with the general understanding of the car, whilst we have a new car next year, all the data collected today will nevertheless help us in 2022. Liam did a really great job today.

"Yuki was also on duty at the wheel and was responsible for the test programme with the new tyre that will run next year. We have collected a lot of important data there today and Pierre will conclude the test on the new 18" tyres tomorrow. This is the last test of the season and I want to say many thanks to the team for all their hard work after such a demanding season. The entire team has done a very good job."

"Logan did an excellent job today," said Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance at Williams. "This was his first time in a Formula One car, and he didn't put a foot wrong. We worked him through a full programme, which introduced him to a range of situations and experiences that are typical of a normal F1 race weekend. He completed 92 laps using the Medium and Soft tyre compounds from last weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and he adapted to the physical and mental challenges of an intense F1 programme with ease and professionalism.

"Everyone at the track and all those back in Grove who have helped prepare Logan for today are very pleased, impressed and proud to see what he achieved. Since he became part of the Williams Team in October, he has been working towards today and he has made the most of this rare opportunity to drive a current F1 race car. His experience from today puts him a great position to work with us to develop the FW44 and will also add to his skillset ahead of his next competitive race drive."

"What an incredible first day in a Formula One car," said Sargeant, who finished fifteenth overall, "it was everything I expected and more. I want to start by saying a massive thank you to Williams, as that was the experience of a lifetime. The team did a great job preparing me for today and giving me the confidence to go out there, enjoy it and do the best I could.

"We got through the run plan and I really progressed a lot throughout the test. The first couple of runs felt unbelievable with the amount of grip and power the car has, but I got used to it fairly quickly and felt comfortable by the end of the day. It's definitely a massive step up from the FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 cars; the brake performance is much better and there's a lot more downforce. The stopping power was like nothing I've felt before! The more you drive, the more you learn and the more pace you find, so I was happy with the lap times I was putting in by the time we finished today."

Check out our Tuesday gallery from Yas Marina, here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 15/12/2021 6:58

"I have just finished reading an article that covered Piastri's first day and he has been impressive. I have decided to give him a new Christian name which I have just coined...In future he will be known as 'Auscar Piastri'. Can I copyright this ? hahaha. All royalties collected will be passed on towards young drivers...of all ethnicities
who are finding it tough to get the requisite funds to further their careers. "

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