Track action for the 2022 Formula 1 season officially came to an end in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with a busy day of testing at the Yas Marina Circuit that was topped by Ferrari.
The day was split between 2023 tire testing and rookie driver running, with teams able to run two cars following Sunday’s race at the same venue. That meant many race drivers were in action – including both of the usual drivers from Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes – and it was the Scuderia who led the way with an unusual one-two-three.
Carlos Sainz took over from Charles Leclerc in the afternoon, and as the track cooled he was able to take top spot from his teammate with a 1m25.245s, just over 0.1s quicker than the Monegasque who secured the runners-up spot in the drivers’ championship 48 hours earlier. They were joined at the top by test driver Robert Shwartzman; a late lap from the 23-year-old leaving him a mere 0.017s slower than Leclerc.
Pierre Gasly was one of five drivers making their debuts for the teams they will race for in 2023, driving for Alpine and posting the fourth-quickest time with a lap in the final 10 minutes of the day. Gasly was 0.1s ahead of Max Verstappen – who also ran in the afternoon – and then came the two Williams drivers of Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant.
While American Sargeant has run for Williams before, he ended up 0.05s clear of another new face in a new team as Nyck de Vries was eighth overall in the AlphaTauri. The Dutchman, who raced for Williams in Monza, was the busiest driver during the nine hours of running, completing 152 laps and finishing up 1.0s quicker than Yuki Tsunoda, who was testing 2023 tires.
Lance Stroll and Liam Lawson – again driving for Red Bull – rounded out the top 10 ahead of Alpine junior Jack Doohan and former Alpine driver Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard was making his debut for Aston Martin and ran in an unstickered car as he is technically on loan from his former team, but he managed nearly 100 laps before handing over to Stroll for the afternoon.
Alonso was encouraged by the car’s pace but had some seating issues that left him in slight pain by the end of his running, as he started work as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement following the four-time world champion’s retirement from F1.
Oscar Piastri was another driver to make his first appearance with his 2023 team as he drove this year’s McLaren for the first time, managing 123 laps and a best time 0.5s quicker than Lando Norris, who carried out tire test duties.
Despite the solid mileage, Piastri did cause a red flag when his car stopped on the exit of Turn 7 with a technical issue during the morning session, leading to a 15-minute delay. The only other interruption was for debris at Turn 3 and that was quickly cleared, although Nico Hulkenberg’s first outing for Haas did include a two-hour delay when he stopped on track in the middle sector.
Hulkenberg was able to stop safely to allow running to continue uninterrupted, but he missed out on some track time before returning to complete 110 laps and end up just over 0.1s quicker than Pietro Fittipaldi.
In total 24 drivers were used across the day, with one other debutant being Frederik Vesti who drove for Mercedes and completed 124 trouble-free laps on his first outing in an F1 car. The Danish F2 driver ended up 0.024s quicker than George Russell and 0.5s off Lewis Hamilton.