Nyck de Vries set the fastest time of the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi with Pato O’Ward’s first Formula 1 outing seeing him finish fourth overall.
The Mercedes young driver – and reigning Formula E champion – followed his recent IndyCar test at Sebring with a run in the current car at the Yas Marina Circuit and was nearly 1.5s clear of the field with a late lap time of 1m23.194s. It was a strong statement from de Vries, as he headed a top seven that was all young drivers running current cars rather than the mule cars used for 18-inch tire testing.
Liam Lawson was second for AlphaTauri, with the young Kiwi edging out new Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri at Alpine and O’Ward. The Mexican managed nearly 100 laps for McLaren and was within 0.1s of Lawson’s time, but felt his neck strength was lacking on low fuel laps late and that cost him lap time.
Guanyu Zhou was fifth on his first appearance for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Juri Vips in sixth for Red Bull. Vips received advice from new world champion Max Verstappen — who was testing 2022 tires — in the morning session, but hit the barrier at Turn 14 later in the afternoon to cause one of three red flags.
The first of those was caused by Daniel Ricciardo — eighth quickest behind Aston Martin’s Nick Yelloly — due to a mechanical issue that was quickly rectified, and the last unfortunately ended Logan Sargeant’s debut early. American driver Sargeant was nearing the 100-lap mark for Williams when he suffered a power unit issue and had his running curtailed with more than two hours to run, ending up 15th overall.
There were early tastes of new teams for Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo and George Russell at Mercedes as both carried out Pirelli tire testing, with the adapted cars in order to run the 18-inch tires proving a fair bit slower than the current models. Verstappen and Russell were both nearly five seconds off the pace set by de Vries, but each comfortably exceeded the 100-lap mark.
The highest mileage was covered by Antonio Fuoco for Ferrari, as he drove the 2021 car in the morning before taking over tire testing duties for Charles Leclerc in the afternoon. Replaced by Robert Shwartzman in the current car — the Russian ending up 10th overall — Fuoco completed 145 laps, two more than Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin mule car.
There will be more tire testing with race drivers on Wednesday, with only Haas carrying out Young Driver Test duties as Shwartzman makes his debut for the team.