Carlos Sainz led the way with a Ferrari 1-2-3 in the post-season Abu Dhabi test in which no fewer than 24 drivers took it to the track to sample Pirelli's 2023 tyres. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on the last official day of the 2022 F1 season.
Just two days after the exciting season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 2022 Formula 1 cars have been run together for the final time as Ferrari rounded out the year with a one-two-three on a busy day of testing on the Yas Marina circuit.
All 10 teams ran two cars for the nine-hour test with one car used to conduct Pirelli 2023 tyre testing and one for young drivers.
Following a successful Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which saw Ferrari secure second place in the Constructors’ Championship and Charles Leclerc grab the second spot in the Drivers’ Championship, the Scuderia worked with their race drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and their test driver Robert Shwartzman.
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 then 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.
Overall the team completed 116 laps with Shwartzman, 57 with Charles Leclerc in the morning and 65 with Carlos Sainz in the afternoon for a grand total of 238 laps.
Shwartzman commented: "We finished a very positive test day here in Abu Dhabi with 116 laps and a solid amount of work. 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."
With two cars permitted for the single-day test, Red Bull split tyre evaluation duties among the race drivers, with Sergio Perez in action in the morning and Max Verstappen at the wheel in the afternoon. The Milton Keynes based outfit’s test and reserve driver Liam Lawson was meanwhile handed a full day in the cockpit of the double title-winning RB18. And after putting in a combined total of 275 laps the three drivers were positive about the outcome.
Perez said: “I think we have had a good morning overall and have plenty of information to give to the Team and the engineers, so I am pleased with the work we have done. The new compounds still tend to be quite close, as they were this season, but the front is a little bit stronger than the 2022 versions.
„We are working with the tyres in very hot conditions here and everything is still early days, so we still have a lot to learn and analyse. It will be interesting to see how they perform in cooler temperatures, which would reflect race temperatures better, when Max is in the car later on.”
Verstappen added: “We completed our programme and got a first, basic understanding for next year, which I think worked out well. It's always nice, when you have the final compound construction, to get a few laps in but at each track the tyres behave differently, so it’s difficult to judge. Having said that, it's always better to have something rather than nothing. Overall, everything behaved quite normally, so it was a good day.”
It has been an important day for double world champion Fernando Alonso, who completed his first outing with his new team Aston Martin. The Spaniard was 12th-fastest time in a sponsor-less car due to two-time world champion still being under contract with Alpine until the end of the year.
Alonso commented: “I can’t be overconfident,, as everything is going to change next year. But the feeling I had in the garage with the guys, the potential of the team, the talent that I see in the engineering room here, is outstanding. So I’m really, really, happy right now.
“When I signed for Aston Martin I was 90 per cent happy, when they started improving and finished the season on a high I was 100 per cent happy, this morning I was 100 per cent, now I’m 100 plus!”
“Nothing surprised me, the car was behaving well. We had some concerns on the steering feedback - at Alpine the first year we had to work a lot for nearly five months on steering assistance and feedback.
“We had some concerns that we spoke the last few weeks so it was a happy surprise that I felt OK with Aston’s system and we don’t need to change much.”
Alonso’s new team mate Lance Stroll ended the day 9th fastest while the team’s new development driver Felipe Drugovich finished in P15 with a total of 106 laps to his name.
Williams completed a busy day with Alexander Albon and newly signed Logan Sargeant notching up a total of 118 and 82 laps respectively. Finishing sixth fastest, Alex Albon said:” Today at the post-season test we got good mileage in and everything went to plan. 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. „
Sargeant added: „Today went well. 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.
Mercedes has a solid day with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell completing a total of 67 and 73 laps. The team’s young driver Frederik Vesti had a very productive day, registering 124 laps in total.
McLaren went thorugh its programme with only two drivers. Lando Norris completed 115 laps, trying out Pirelli’s 2023 tyres. Former F3 and F2 champion Oscar Piastri made his debut with McLaren, although his day did not go entirely to plan as he caused a red flag in the morning due to a power unit issue. Nevertheless, the Australian completed 123 laps on his way to 14th overall.
Norris added: "Useful day. 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, doing everything we can to start next year on the front foot."
Piastri commented: "A good first day with McLaren, I think we learnt a lot. 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 finally 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."
Formula One cars will take it to the track for the next time on February 23, the opening day of the sole pre-season test in Bahrain ahead of the 2023 campaign.
|1. Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||1m 25.245s||65|
|2. Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1m 25.383s||56|
|3. Robert Shwartzman||Ferrari||1m 25.400s||116|
|4. Pierre Gasly||Alpine||1m 25.689s||130|
|5. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m 25.845s||76|
|6. Alex Albon||Williams||1m 25.959s||118|
|7. Logan Sargeant||Williams||1m 26.063s||82|
|8. Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri||1m 26.111s||151|
|9. Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1m 26.263s||70|
|10. Liam Lawson||Red Bull||1m 26.281s||111|
|11. Jack Doohan||Alpine||1m 26.297s||111|
|12. Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||1m 26.312s||97|
|13. Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1m 26.333s||88|
|14. Oscar Piastri||McLaren||1m 26.340s||123|
|15. Felipe Drugovich||Aston Martin||1m 26.595s||106|
|16. Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1m 26.709s||129|
|17. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1m 26.750s||67|
|18. Lando Norris||McLaren||1m 26.890s||115|
|19. Nico Hulkenberg||Haas||1m 27.000s||110|
|20. Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||1m 27.123s||135|
|21. Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas||1m 27.172s||99|
|22. Frederik Vesti||Mercedes||1m 27.216s||124|
|23. George Russell||Mercedes||1m 27.240s||73|
|24. Theo Pourchaire||Alfa Romeo||1m 27.591s||106|