Alonso tops post-season test, Ferrari covers eye-catching mileage

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Italy, Autodromo Nazionale di Monzait

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso posted the fastest time of all the runners at the post-season Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi, while Ferrari drivers Robert Shwartzman and Antonio Fuoco racked up the highest mileage.

After Renault gained permission from the FIA to run Fernando Alonso in the post-season Abu Dhabi test, the Spaniard did not waste the opportunity and went fastest today, registering a time of 1m36.333. The Spaniard notched up a total of 105 lap at the 5.554km Yas Marina Circuit, using Pirelli’s C4 and C5 compounds.

Following the test, the Spaniard said that “it was good and very nice to be back in the car especially with the race team. I’ve been testing the 2018 car in preparation but this one felt a bit more serious and it ignited a little bit the competitive spirit. It was great to feel the modern cars and experience what they can do.

„I was watching the team’s progress at the weekend closely, and it was nice to experience what I learnt from the outside and then inside the cockpit today. We signed off lots of basic things we did in preparation at the factory like seat fitting, pedal position and so on, which is beneficial with only one and a half days of winter testing next year,” he said.

Formula 2 racer Guanyu Zhou was driving the other R.S.20 today. The Chinese driver has previously completed several runs with the 2018 Renault F1 machinery, including test runs at the Hungaroring and at the Bahrain International Circuit.

„Our pace was reasonably stable, so I was happy with that, especially this morning’s performance run,” he added. „There were a couple of technical things here and there, but it is testing, we still did a lot of laps, and that is the main purpose.

„I wasn’t really looking for lap time and during the last two sessions, together with the team, we found a good balance on the car in comparison to the evening sessions at the weekend, so that’s positive learning for the team.

Today was an intense day for Ferrari. The Scuderia tasked F2 driver Robert Shwartzman and Antonio Fuoco to drive the SF1000 following the condensed season that compressed 163 days from the first practice for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix until the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old from St Petersburg completed 129 laps, more than two Grand Prix distances, on the C4 and C5 compound tyres. His best time was a 1.38.157, set in the final hour of the session, when the track surface was at its best, with the car in qualifying trim and running the Soft C5 tyres.

"I feel very good, awesome, it’s a dream come true! You know when you are a little kid, and you are watching Ferrari winning, and you always dreamed about ‘when is that day going to come when I am going to sit in it and drive this car?’ It happened today and it was very nice.

„The back of my neck is a bit sore, from the heavy braking, but apart from that, I am feeling really well. Steering wise, driving this car is easier than the F2 cars, so no problems there. I did the most laps today and each one of them felt really cool,” the Russian concluded.

Antonio Fuoco, who is a former FDA driver and now a driver coach at the Academy, completed 126 laps, the best in 1.37.817, set on the C5 tyres. For the the Italian, who is also one of the Scuderia’s simulator experts, the main goal was a comparison between the real car and the virtual one in which he has racked up so many miles over the course of this year.

"This was a very good day and we managed to get through our programme, completing 126 laps, which is more than two race distances. Along with the team, we gathered a lot of data to analyse which will be useful for next season.

„As a driver that specialises in working in the simulator, it is extremely useful for me to be able to get in the real car from time to time to reacquaint myself with what it feels like being in the cockpit. On top of that, we were able to work specifically on verifying the correlation between our tools in Maranello and the SF1000 on track,” he said.

In the meantime, Ferrari also announced that Callum Ilott will join the Scuderia as the team’s official test driver. The Briton finished second behind Mick Schumacher in the 2020 Formula 2 Championship.

"I am very pleased to be joining Scuderia Ferrari as its test driver from next year,” he added. „I look forward to contributing to the work the team does on and off track, and to all of the new things I can learn by taking on this exciting new challenge. I will give my all to do a good job and gain as much experience as possible to continue making progress as a driver.

The team also confirmed that the brother of Charles Leclerc, Arthur will race in the FIA Formula 3 Championship with Prema in 2020. The Monegasque was the runner-up in this year’s European Formula Regional championship, winning more races than anyone by taking a total of six triumphs, 15 podiums and eight pole positions.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team completed 192 laps at the Yas Marina Circuit, with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel of our two W11s.

The team said that today's programme included giving the drivers experience on single lap and long runs, set-up changes to understand the effects they have on car balance and understanding the behaviour of the 2020 Pirelli tyres. Moreover, the team also completed simulator comparisons - as both drivers complete work in our simulator facility.

„Today was very special, making my Formula One debut,” added de Vries. What an incredible car, it's from a different planet really. You can brake so late and carry so much speed through the corners. It was a real pleasure to drive.

„I'm really pleased with the progression I made throughout the day and the work we completed. I was quite surprised with how quickly I felt comfortable in the car and the team was very supportive, doing everything they could to make me feel as comfortable as possible,” concluded the 2019 F2 champion.

Vandoorne commented on his day: „I had a lot of fun out there today in the W11. I managed to complete plenty of laps with both some short and longer runs. It was a pretty smooth day and I was quickest in the morning session as well.

„I want to say a massive thank you to the team for giving me this opportunity, because the chance to drive a Championship-winning F1 car doesn't come around very often and is very unique. It was a real privilege to drive W11 and a really great day."

Williams worked with Jack Aitken and Roy Nissany behind the wheel. The duo racked up a total of 153 laps, finishing 10th and 14th fastest. Jack Aitken, who stepped in for George Russell at the Sakhir Grand Prix, said that „it was a really good day, and I had lots of fun, but I wish we had more tyres to play with! We got through a nice programme, I got plenty of laps and we had no major issues which is always nice.

„There were a few things that we went into more detail with that we didn’t have time to in Bahrain. It was nice to go through some of the procedures and really knuckle down in more detail on some things which is a luxury. It was a nice way to end the year and thanks again to Williams for the opportunity.”

Formula 2 racer Roy Nissany was happy to be able to complete a lot more mileage than he was able to cover during his FP1 outings during the 2020 F1 season.

„It is always nice to jump back in the car and today was amazing. In contrast to the FP1s, it was a full day with lots of kilometres logged, lots of learning, lots of understanding of the car – a great experience. It was also a challenge in terms of the development, and in terms of understanding a few mechanical changes.

„Overall, I am happy with my performance, and I think the team is as well. It was a great way to end the year. I will take all the conclusions, go deep into the data and spend the winter analysing it all,” he said.

Driving the Alfa Romeo C39, Robert Kubica and Callum Ilott completed a total of 182 laps, from morning to late afternoon.

The Polish driver, on his sixth appearance of the year behind the wheel, and the Briton, whose previous experience with the team dated back to a test in Barcelona last year, completed an issue-free day, concentrating on their run plans and bringing the team’s programme to completion on schedule.

Commenting on the test, Kubica said: “It’s always good to spend time driving this car, especially having the opportunity to do a full day of testing. It’s crucial to get a good feeling with the car, get into a rhythm, and having from morning to evening today really allowed me to get in this zone and do a good job.

„Now a long and intense season finally comes to an end: I’d like to thank all the guys and girls at Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN for the work they have put in all year, it’s been an incredible job.”

Ilott, who has just been confirmed as Scuderia Ferrari’s test driver for 2021, said: “It’s been an amazing day, driving an incredible car. I am thankful to Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and the Ferrari Driver Academy for the opportunity to drive today. We completed 93 laps, some good mileage and a busy day for the team.

„From my personal point of view, I’ve really enjoyed it: it took a lot of focus to keep performing at this level, in such a powerful car, but it’s been really good and I hope to get more opportunities to drive this car in the future,” he added.

Unlike pre-season testing, the rules for today’s test permitted teams to run two cars, and any qualified driver who has not contested more than two Grands Prix in 2020. This allowed Red Bull Racing to give Official Test and Reserve Drivers Jüri Vips and Sébastien Buemi mileage in the RB16.

Between them, Vips and Buemi completed 178 laps of the Yas Marina Circuit, posting a time of 1m37.770 and 1m38.284 respectively.

For Buemi, a Formula E and double World Endurance Champion, this was a day to properly reacquaint himself with a modern Formula One car. “I very much enjoyed being back in the car and getting a proper day of running so that was cool,” he said.

“It was good to do so many laps and I was happy to be back with the Team trackside. Hopefully we can now have a good debrief from today, see what we learned and take it over to the simulator.”

For Vips it was the first chance to drive a hybrid F1 car, having previously only driven our RB8 at a wet Silverstone.

“It’s just a shame the test ended really – I had a massive smile on my face the whole day!” he said. „The car definitely lives up to the expectations. I was a little bit worried this morning about how it was going to be physically, especially about the neck, but we got through all of our programme: lots of mileage and I’m just very happy about the experience.

„Within two or three laps I felt confident in the car – it was very well balanced and it has a ridiculous amount of grip! When am I getting back in the car? I don’t know, I need to talk to Helmut and Christian – but if it was up to me, I’d be driving it every day!”

AlphaTauri worked with Yuki Tsunoda and Marino Sato behind the wheel of the AT01 at the Yas Marina Circuit. Tsunoda, who is expected to make his F1 debut with the team in 2021, notched up a total of 123 laps, posting a best time of 1’37.557.

The Sagamihara-born 20-year-old Tsunoda completed a test run previously when he drove the team’s car after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

“I had more track time today than when I tried a Formula 1 car for the first time in November and I must admit I feel a bit tired now at the end of the day,” he added. „But it was a very enjoyable experience. When I last drove in Imola it was a 2018 car, so I was surprised at the increase in power and downforce from the current car. However, the experience from my drive in Imola was definitely a useful starting point for today.

„There were quite a few aspects that felt new to me and during the session I worked on dealing with these and continuously improving throughout the day. I learned a lot and have made progress with my driving. The off-season starts tomorrow, and I have a training programme planned to make sure I am always stronger and fitter, but I will also enjoy some days at home in Japan, to fully recharge batteries,” he said.

The Tokyo-born 21-year-old Sato racked up 127 laps in total, registering his best lap with a time of 1’38.495. “First of all, thank you to everyone in Scuderia AlphaTauri for the opportunity I had today to drive an F1 car for the very first time,” he added.

„We completed quite a lot of laps, it’s just a shame that I got stuck in bit of traffic for my run on the soft compound. It was looking good until then, but I can’t say I could fully give it all I had today. But still, the first day in a Formula 1 car was really enjoyable and a great experience, so I hope to come back to drive this car again soon.”

Haas F1 Team attended the post-season young driver test at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with Mick Schumacher behind the wheel of the VF-20. Having had his first outing with the American squad in FP1 during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Schumacher – who will race full-time for Haas F1 Team in 2021, was one of 15 drivers participating in the test to bring to a close track activities for the year.

The 21-year-old German recorded 125 laps around the 5.554-kilometer (3.451-mile), 21-turn circuit.

Commenting on his day, Schumacher said: “I feel pretty good, obviously I’m very happy I managed to do so many laps – it’s not always a given in testing. We focused on a good amount of laps, and a valuable amount of laps, which was very positive. The key point from today was just to understand the tires a little more – for that, the long runs were very good.

"I think we achieved that, and I now have a pretty good knowledge of what I need to do although the tires might be a bit different next year. I feel very comfortable, I know the team’s happy, so that’s good. I really was so happy to be in the car and it was so much fun to drive. I’m really looking forward to next year," he concluded.

Racing Point and McLaren decided previously not to take part at this year's Young Driver Test.