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Abu Dhabi test: Ferrari in the lead and many debuts

Abu Dhabi test: Ferrari in the lead and many debuts

24 November - 12:05 Last update: 13:41
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GPblog.com

Last Tuesday the last appendix of the 2022 season was staged at the Yas Marina circuit. In fact, the traditional end-of-season tests took place, which were useful for testing the new tyres, getting the young drivers to put miles on the clock and inaugurating the new partnerships for 2023. On this occasion Ferrari even recorded the three best times.

Joining Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc was Robert Shwartzman, who had made his Ferrari debut in free practice in Austin. The Israeli set a time just 0.155 seconds faster than Sainz, who was the fastest of the session with 1:25.245. Max Verstappen finished fifth, while only thirteenth was Sergio Perez, slower even than rookie Liam Lawson, who finished tenth in his Red Bull. At the back of the grid were the Mercedes cars, but the important thing was to put in lots of laps ahead of next year.

The rookies

The teams were obliged to field at least one rookie during these tests. For Williams, McLaren and AlphaTauri this was not a problem, as rookies Sargeant, Piastri and De Vries will be their starting drivers for next season. In the cars of other teams, some of the faces who had already competed in practice sessions during the year were seen again, such as the aforementioned Lawson and Shwartzman, Pietro Fittipaldi in the Haas, Drugovich in the Aston Martin, Doohan in the Alpine and Pourchaire in the Alfa Romeo. The only real rookie was Frederik Vesti in the Mercedes.

The Dane was among the drivers who did the most kilometres, with 129 laps completed, but in this special category, it was Nyck De Vries who stood out, having covered 151 laps. In terms of times, the best was Shwartzman, third with the Ferrari, who thus finished in the top ten together with Sargeant (7th), De Vries (8th) and Lawson (10th). Only fourteenth was Oscar Piastri, who in his first outing with McLaren had to fight against technical problems with his single-seater, finishing however 123 laps.

New partnerships

However, it was also the day of Alonso's debut with Aston Martin, Gasly with Alpine and Hulkenberg with Haas. The Asturian finished twelfth, after 97 laps, but his feelings were positive. "It was good. It was a very good experience. I feel honoured to drive for such an iconic brand. It was a very special day, having a first go in this car and to try to feel the differences. Obviously, we raced two days ago here so it's very fresh and it's very useful," Alonso told F1's official Instagram profile.

In contrast, Pierre Gasly, making his first appearance with Alpine, finished with the fourth fastest time. The Frenchman completed an impressive 130 laps, finishing four and a half tenths behind the fastest, Carlos Sainz. "It's been really good. The first feel with this Alpine car, the first time on track with these guys. It was an extremely smooth morning, very good adaptation," said the Frenchman again in the video posted by F1 on Instagram.

At Yas Marina, Nico Hulkenberg made his permanent return to F1 after more than three years. Placing nineteenth, the German did better than Pietro Fittipaldi but lacked the reference of his new team-mate Magnussen, who was absent during testing. Hulkenberg is also very satisfied, especially to be back in F1: "I am happy. I'm glad to have achieved it. It was not a no-brainer after three years out that I could come back. I can only think of big names and world champions who have achieved that in the past so I'm very happy and proud about it," he said.

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