In the wake of the final race of the season, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina on Sunday, Formula 1 cars will be run in anger one last time this year during Pirelli testing at the UAE venue on Tuesday and Wednesday.
There will be added interest in proceedings as several drivers will take the opportunity to try out for the teams they will race with next year.
McLaren will run both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, the pair will spearhead the team’s new era with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne leaving the team after a season of hopelessness.
Sainz will be able to evaluate how bad the McLaren really is, or isn’t, compared to the Renault he has driven this past season. For rookie Norris, any mileage is good mileage.
New Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc will be on duty on Wednesday for the Reds, the Frenchman also marking a new era for the Italian team who have opted for a mix of youth (him) and experience, with Sebastian Vettel in the sister car on day one.
Leclerc will now have to transform from the relative obscurity of Sauber to the hard spotlight of centre stage where the Reds always are no matter what. It would be fair to say that his life, as he knows it, will be very different from Tuesday onward when he slides into the SF71H as a fully fledged Ferrari driver.
After the summer break, Red Bull announced that Pierre Gasly would get the nod to partner Max Verstappen next year and on Wednesday the Frenchman will be at the wheel of RB14 for the first time with The Dutchman in the cockpit Tuesday.
Toro Rosso’s prodigal son Daniil Kvyat returns to action ahead of his second (or is it third?) crack at the top flight and will test for the team on Wednesday, with Sean Galeal on duty a day earlier.
The Red Bull-owned team’s new signing Alexander Albon is not on the schedule.
Lance Stroll will finally make his debut for Force India, the team his father Lawrence bought earlier this year to further his son’s career, after a year of misery with Williams.
His feedback and comparisons between the handy VJM11 and the hopeless FW41 will be interesting as both are powered by Mercedes. Notably, the Pinks at times this season were Best of Rest while the Grove outfit were more often than not consistently the worst of the worst.
Williams will field their all-new driver line-up of Formula 2 Champion George Russell and Robert Kubica – the pair sharing the car on both days.
Renault will run Nico Hulkenberg on Tuesday and promising Formula 2 driver Artem Markelov the day after. Their incoming driver, Daniel Ricciardo – on a farewell tour to Milton Keynes – will have to wait until next season to get his hands on the yellow and black car.
Haas have given their regular drivers an early break and will run Indycar driver Pietro Fittipaldi (one of Emerson’s clan) and Swiss Formula 2 midfield runner Louis Deletraz, the pair testing a Formula 1 car for the first.
Mercedes have given World Champion and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton an early vacation, with Valtteri Bottas in action for the team on both days.
Finally, Kimi Raikkonen has raised his hand and volunteered his services to his ‘new’ team Sauber who will run the veteran Finn on day one of the test. Another interesting comparison: SF71H versus C37.
The team’s 2019 driver Antonio Giovinazzi will be in the car on Wednesday.
2018 Abu Dhabi Pirelli Test driver line-up:
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) November 26, 2018