Abu Dhabi Test Day 1: Driver & Team Reports & Photos

Drivers and teams report from the first day of the two day Pirelli tyre tests at Yas Marina Circuit, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on Tuesday.


Valtteri completed 120 laps of the Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday at the wheel of the championship-winning Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+. The team returned to the venue of last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, testing Pirelli’s new range of tyres for 2019.
The Finn set the second fastest time of the day, a 1:37.231, on the HyperSoft tyre
He completed 120 untroubled laps of the Yas Marina Circuit (666.480 km)
The main focus of the day was collecting data on the 2019 tyre compounds

Valtteri Bottas: “Overall, a good day of testing here in Abu Dhabi. We completed our programme without any issues and we were able to do some long and short runs on a mix of the new Pirelli compounds. We can see some differences to this year’s tyres but we have all winter to work on understanding the new tyres from all the knowledge we are gaining from this test. I’m sure Pirelli will learn a lot from these two days of testing as well. We’ll be back on track tomorrow for the final time this year.”

Andrew Shovlin: “Today was about gathering data on the 2019 tyres and understanding how they differ to the 2018 tyres we’ve used this year. We’ll continue our programme with Valtteri tomorrow with more of a focus on the performance and degradation of each of the compounds. This work is important as we need to select tyres for the early races based on the information we find at this test. It was a good day of running and the car ran without any issues.”


Sebastian Vettel’s racing year came to an end today as he completed 68 laps of the Abu Dhabi track, with a best time of 1:36.812, which came courtesy of a fresh set of 2018-spec Hypersoft tyres. Tomorrow, for the second and last day of tyre testing, Charles Leclerc will take over from Seb with a similar programme.

Sebastian Vettel: “The purpose of this test is primarily to get a first feeling of the new tyres, with the impressions of the last weekend of racing still fresh in our minds, which gave us the possibility to compare. Unfortunately, today we lost some track time to repair work, but overall I think there were no major surprises as these tyres seem to work and to be fairly similar to the ones we used this season. Now we’ll see how the new regulations for 2019 affect the speed of all cars and how they work in combination with the tyres, also depending on the compound choices at the various tracks.”


Tuesday began with Pietro Fittipaldi making his Formula 1 debut representing Haas F1 Team. All 10 teams that competed in the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship were present.

Fittipaldi logged 56 laps around the 5.554-kilometre (3.451-mile), 21-turn track. His quickest time was a 1:39.201, earned on his 41st lap on a set of Pirelli P Zero Pink hypersoft tires. It placed him eighth among the 12 drivers who participated.

Fittipaldi wasted little time getting onto the track when it opened at 9 a.m. local time, making his installation lap on the Purple ultrasoft tire. A 17-lap wake-up run on the same compound followed. The morning program then stopped abruptly due to an electrical power unit issue as Fittipaldi began his next out-lap shortly before 11 a.m.

After an extended stay in the garage for a power unit change, Fittipaldi returned to the track just after 4 p.m. He quickly cycled through back-to-back comparison runs utilizing Pirelli’s 2018 and 2019 soft and hypersoft rubber. He totalled 38 laps to close a productive final two hours of track time.

Pietro Fittipaldi: “It was an amazing day. I’m very happy to have had my first drive in a Formula One car. The braking power of the car, the acceleration, the speeds you carry through the corners, it was just insane. The car is so fast. It’s just stuck to the ground. The amount of downforce it has is unbelievable. We had small issues at the beginning of the day, but the team got them sorted. They really did a fantastic job to get back out there, and then in the afternoon we worked through the plan we had. We compared the 2018 tires to the 2019s from Pirelli. I tried to give the engineers my best feedback so they can start working on that information. The team has given me a huge opportunity to be testing with them next year. I’ll learn as much as I can, but also help them with developing the car for 2019 and throughout the season. It was a really good test.”


Lando Norris got behind the wheel of the McLaren MCL33 for the first time since the first free practice session on Friday morning in Brazil. He completed 136 laps and set the sixth-fastest time of the day.

As these two days post the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are dedicated to tyre testing of Pirelli compounds for 2019 only, car development is naturally limited. However, there is much still to be learned ahead of the 2019 season – not only tyre degradation, but also useful driver-specific procedures and processes.

Lando Norris: “I think this was the most laps I’ve ever done in a day, so it was good. I got through a lot of the things I needed to, such as longer runs – which I haven’t done much of so far – so considering all that, I don’t feel too bad. I haven’t really felt the degradation of the tyres before, so that was one of the biggest things I wanted to get through.”

“I’ll have a bit more experience for next year now, of tyre drop-off and things like that. I also wanted to put a few other things together, such as practice starts and giving feedback.”

“It did feel a bit different today, realising that a lot of the stuff we did was for my own good and things that will really benefit me a lot next year. I’m now trying to get everything based around me rather than the other drivers like in the past as Test Driver, so it definitely did feel a bit different. I really wanted to focus on trying to make it the best I could for me, so it was useful.”

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: “For us, today was the first day of our 2019 programme successfully completed. We had a clean day and accomplished all of our objectives, including several longer runs. Our focus was not only collecting tyre information, but for the first time the programme was geared towards Lando as our main priority, rather than the supporting role he has played as Test and Reserve Driver so far.

“We’re looking forward to having Carlos drive our car for the first time tomorrow.”


The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team has concluded the first day of testing at Abu Dhabi with Kimi Räikkönen in the cockpit of the Sauber C37. The Finnish driver completed a total of 102 laps throughout the day, becoming familiar with the car and the team’s operating systems.

The programme was focused on tyre testing – running the 2019 tyre casing, as well as different compounds from the current selection. With Räikkönen’s feedback and the collected data, the team has obtained a good reference in preparation for the upcoming season.

In the final run, the team finished just a few minutes ahead of schedule, without compromising the test programme. The causes are still under investigation.

Tomorrow it will be Antonio Giovinazzi’s turn to drive for day two of the test at the Yas Marina Circuit.