Ferrari tops timesheets at Abu Dhabi test


The curtain was brought down on the 2022 season in Abu Dhabi today, where Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly were among the drivers making their debuts with their 2023 teams.

In all 24 drivers were on duty over the course of the day, the main focus being the new tyre compounds for next season.

However, the one day test not only allowed several young drivers to get some vital mileage in, including a couple making their F1 debuts, it enabled several current drivers to experience their new teams for the first time.

Other than Alonso at Aston Martin and Gasly at Alpine, Nico Hulkenberg made his debut with Haas, Nyck de Vries with AlphaTauri and Oscar Piastri at McLaren.

There were no incident of note over the course of the day, though Piastri lost track time following a technical issue in the morning. Similarly, Hulkenberg suffered an issue which caused him to stop on track, but like Piastri he was soon back in action.

Between them the 24 drivers completed 2,458 laps, with Leclerc, who was only on duty this morning, completing the least (56), and de Vries (151) the most.

At Ferrari, Robert Shwartzman drove for the whole day as part of the Young Driver Test, the Italian team completing 238 laps in total, 116 laps with Schwartzman 56 with Leclerc 65 with Carlos Sainz in the afternoon.

Leclerc was the first driver to take to the track in the morning, trying out two different compounds. the Monegasque made his mark with a best time of 1:25.383, a lap that stayed at the top of the timesheets all the way to the break for lunch.

In the afternoon Sainz took to the wheel; his time of 1:25.225 ended up the fastest of the whole day. The Spaniard also drove with two different compounds.

Shwartzman was at the wheel of the F1-75 for the third time this year, following two sessions of free practice at Austin and at Yas Marina last Friday. He lapped with three different compounds, and set his own fastest lap of 1:25.400.

"We finished a very positive test day and a solid amount of work," said Schwartzman. "The testing programme was quite comprehensive with performance runs, race simulations, tests and practice starts. I feel I made a good improvement from Friday's FP1 and for most of the sessions I was fairly close to Charles and Carlos pace wise which is also very positive for me. There are always things to improve but I think the potential we showed was very good.

"In general I am also very happy with the work we did this year with the team back in Maranello on the simulator as the car feels very similar. It was great having the chance to drive for the team again and I really enjoyed today."

Pierre Gasly took the wheel of the A522 for the first time alongside Alpine Academy's Jack Doohan, just two days after meeting its season objective of finishing fourth in the Constructors' Championship.

Gasly completed 130 laps with Doohan - taking part in Pirelli's Young Driver 2023 tyre test - completing 111 laps as he continues his F1 driving development.

"Firstly, thanks to the entire team for making me feel so welcome over the last two days," said Gasly, "I'm feeling ready to begin this next chapter in my career.

"It was a fantastic feeling to drive the A522 for the first time, and, I must say, it's an impressive car. The objectives for me today were all about getting used to my new surroundings, working closely with the engineers and, generally, building up my learning in the car and getting an understanding for its characteristics.

"We completed many laps - as per our plan - and I'm already very excited to fully embed myself in the team. I'm looking forward to visiting everyone at Viry and Enstone, debriefing on this test, before working towards our objectives alongside Esteban for the 2023 season."

"It's been another good experience today," added Doohan, "and I'm very grateful to Alpine for this opportunity.

"It's been a busy day, plenty of laps, and a lot of new things to take on board, and I'm pretty pleased with how it's progressed. Last weekend in practice 1 was only one hour long, so to have a full day in the car is extremely useful as you can get a lot done in a less pressured environment.

"Thanks to Alpine for a brilliant year and I'm excited for the hard work to continue next season. Now my focus turns back to Formula 2 again where I'm back in the car for three days of testing in Abu Dhabi before the off-season."

"It was great to have Pierre in the car for the first time today as it's very important for him to get up to speed quickly in order to hit the ground running in 2023," said Alan Permane, the team's Sporting Director: "We have just three days of pre-season testing next season, so today's test is particularly useful for us to complete some of the small but important tasks on any new driver checklist.

"Pierre's day mainly consisted of familiarisation work and getting him used to the car and our systems as well as gaining a further understanding on Pirelli's 2023 tyres. We know Pierre is a top-level driver and he did a very good job today to embed himself within the team.

"Jack was on the other side of the garage in the Young Driver Test and he again - like in FP1 last Friday - was faultless in the car as he continues his learning and progress in Formula 1 machinery. The trackside team returns to Viry and Enstone now ahead of the off-season, so thanks to them for a very good year."

"Today went well," said Logan Sargeant following his first time in the Williams since being confirmed as the Grove outfit's second driver in 2023. "Throughout the day we gradually progressed, got through our test plan and completed all the laps we needed to do.

"By the end of the day I felt super comfortable. It was really nice to get a full day rather than a FP1 to properly get to grips with everything.

"My season hasn't ended, there's a lot of work to do over the next three months to prepare myself for next season. I'll strictly be in the gym, on the simulator and working with everyone at Grove to ensure no stone is left unturned. I can't wait to be back out on track for winter testing for my first season in Formula 1."

"Today we got good mileage in and everything went to plan," added Alex Albon. "We got to test all the different compounds for next year and there will be a lot of data to look at over the winter months to try to understand the differences of the tyre, but inevitably there's not a huge difference, I think it's all small things.

"The hard work starts now working to make sure that we enter into Bahrain with the best possible car we can and I think today, with all the data that we have learnt, is going to help us do that."

"We've had a very productive day to complete the 2022 season," said Dave Robson, the team's Head of Vehicle Performance. "Both cars ran reliably throughout, which allowed Alex and Logan to run their intended programmes. Alex ran through a series of tyre tests, exploring the 2023 tyres at various track temperatures and fuel loads. Logan got his first experience of a proper day of F1 testing as well as some useful exposure to the 2023 tyres. We were able to do a lot more work with him than is possible during an FP1 session and everything he did will set him up nicely for the crucial pre-season testing that we will do next February.

"The timesheets don't mean very much today as every driver is completing their own programme. However, it was nice to see both drivers near the top having completed some very good laps on the softer compounds. Logan drove exceptionally well and fully deserved to be so close to Alex.

"We completed 200 laps of running today across the two cars and almost every one of these was done according to the plan and with a clear purpose. The engineering team put together a very well planned and executed day of testing, which sets us up nicely for the break before we hit the track again early next year."

"A good first day with McLaren, I think we learnt a lot," enthused Oscar Piastri. "It was great to finally join up with the team, and thanks to them for a good day of running.

"We did a lot of laps and experimented a lot which is exactly what today is all about. I've got a good idea where to improve for next year. I really enjoyed it, it's nice to be back out on track finally and experience the 2022 cars. I'm looking forward to next year now, I'll be in the factory next week to meet the whole team, after that I'll take a short break before getting back to work with McLaren to prepare for next year."

"A useful day," added Lando Norris. "It was good to get some time with these tyres to help Pirelli's development of them into 2023 and to gather important data on how they operate.

"It was a productive day to round out the season. Big thanks to Pirelli and the team for their hard work. We'll now head into the winter focused on preparing for the 2023 season and doing everything we can to start next year on the front foot."

"It's been a productive day," said Andrea Stella, "we've managed to complete a lot of important work.

"Firstly, it's been great to get Oscar into the MCL36 and start his integration into the team. The main objective for him today has been to get as much mileage under his belt as possible, and to start to get him used to working with the team.

"On Lando's side, it was useful to gather information on these Pirelli tyres ahead of next year. Our thanks go to Pirelli for their support during this test.

"Having completed 123 laps with Oscar and 115 with Lando, my thanks go to the team, both here at track and at MTC, and to the drivers for their hard work today. After a long season of Formula 1, the race team will now head back to MTC and take the time for a well-deserved rest and reset before putting all our efforts into the 2023 season."

Check out our Test gallery from Abu Dhabi, here.

"It was good!" said Alonso, who drove an Aston Martin devoid of sponsor logos. "It was a very nice experience. I feel honoured to drive for such an iconic brand.

"It was a very special day," he added, "having the first go in the car and trying to feel also the differences. Obviously, we raced two days ago here, so it's very fresh and it's very useful."

Asked about his new team, he said: "I tried to meet all the mechanics, the engineers, and I will try to remember a lot of new names, for sure,

"It felt good," he said of the 2023 tyres. "I think the tyres were not too different compared to last year. Obviously, they tried to improve a few weaknesses that we had in 2022. They felt good - even on the extreme heat, now at midday. I think tyre-wise we should be very good in 2023."

Looking ahead, he said: "I cannot be overconfident for sure, because everything is going to change for next year. But the feeling I had today in the garage with the guys and the potential of the team, the talent that I see in the engineering room here is outstanding. I'm really, really, really happy right now."

As part of its agreement with Mercedes for the early release of Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri agreed to no media coverage, however with 151 laps under his belt and the eighth best time, perhaps action speaks louder than words.

Haas concluded its on-track activities with Nico Hulkenberg and Pietro Fittipaldi driving VF-22s. Hulkenberg, who announced as Kevin Magnussen's new teammate for 2023 at last week's Grand Prix, made his track debut for the American team, the German straight to work participating in the scheduled tire testing.

Fittipaldi, the team's official test and reserve driver, was back behind the wheel fulfilling the young driver test obligation, the Brazilian following up his FP1 stint from last weekend with extended track running in the VF-22 on the 2023 tires.

"It was a good day of work," said Hulkenberg, "good running, collected many impressions and a lot of data, which was the target. We successfully went through our program.

"There's a lot of things to pick through, digest and analyse now and over the next couple of weeks with the team. Today was about learning the tires for 2023, learning their characteristics and with these test days you have a bit more time to try stuff. I'm satisfied and happy with the day. There was a bit of human degradation towards the end day, but I coped better than expected to be honest - so that's good. There's now three months of hard-core preparation to get ready, I have a plan and I know what I have to do."

"It was an amazing day of testing," added Fittipaldi. "We got just under 100 laps of testing in using the new 2023 tires. Again, I felt pretty comfortable in the car and fast off the bat - so that allowed us to kick on with the test program. It was a very positive day from my side. Thanks to the team for the opportunity."

"So, we had a pretty good day today with Nico," said Ayao Komatsu, the team's Director of Engineering. "We had a bit of PU trouble in the morning, but in the end he completed 110 laps. For a first time back in the car for a while, I'd say he's done a really good job.

"We tested quite a lot of stuff which will be useful for next year. Pietro, in the other car, he did 99 laps, and as usual his preparation was good and his feedback excellent. He didn't put a foot wrong today, it was a really good day with him. We're very happy with the way the day's gone overall."

Check out our Test gallery from Abu Dhabi, here.

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Published: 26/11/2022
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