Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas set the pace on the opening day of 2020 Pirelli tire testing in Abu Dhabi, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was next up despite a spin due to contact with Sergio Perez (Racing Point).
On a largely incident-free day of running at the Yas Marina Circuit, Vettel and Perez tangled at Turn 11 in the afternoon. Perez attempted to overtake down the inside at the end of the second DRS zone, but Vettel appeared unaware of the move and turned in. While the Mexican tried his best to avoid contact — bouncing over the inside curb as much as possible — his front right tire just tapped the left rear of the Ferrari and spun Vettel.
Neither car was damaged in the incident and both continued running untroubled, with Vettel ending up 0.8s behind pace-setter Bottas at the checkered flag.
The Finn posted a 1m37.124s fast lap late in the afternoon on the 2019 C4 tire, carrying out direct comparison runs between the 2019 and 2020 compounds.
Daniil Kvyat was third after taking over from Sean Gelael in the afternoon, the Toro Rosso ending up a second off the pace but just 0.2s slower than Vettel. Indonesian Formula 2 driver Gelael was one of three drivers taking part on Tuesday that didn’t race on Sunday, but the main focus was on Renault where Esteban Ocon made his F1 return.
Ocon officially started work with his new team on Monday and completed 77 laps in a relatively limited day compared to most teams, registering the lowest total of any driver not sharing a car on Tuesday. The Frenchman was eighth overall, just 0.1s slower than Max Verstappen as the Red Bull driver completed the highest mileage of the day with 153 laps, almost exactly double Ocon’s tally.
Aside from Bottas, Vettel and Verstappen, three other drivers exceeded 100 laps on the day: Perez was fourth despite the contact with Vettel, and Romain Grosjean and Lando Norris also hit three figures in fifth and sixth respectively.
And aside from Bottas on the 2019 C4, all of the drivers ahead of Verstappen set their best lap on the 2020 C5 tire — the softest available compound — while the Red Bull driver posted his time on the 2020 C3.
Kimi Raikkonen was slowest of the race drivers taking part as his day was ended slightly early by a technical issue for Alfa Romeo, leaving him 0.6s slower than George Russell in the Williams.
Russell handed over to debutant Roy Nissany for the final two hours of the day, with the Israeli taking time to get comfortable with a modern F1 car and ending up 4.4 seconds slower than the regular Williams driver after managing 41 laps. Both will again be in action on Wednesday — as will Ocon — with Russell driving for Mercedes and Nissany carrying out the morning for Williams before Nicholas Latifi begins his preparations for 2020.