Esteban Ocon was the fastest driver at the end of the post season Formula 1 test in Abu Dhabi, that saw George Russell head to an early test conclusion after crashing before lunch time.
With the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix behind us, the 2023 F1 cars made their final track appearance on Tuesday for the post-season test, that was conducted to test Pirelli tyres as well as offering seat time for some young drivers.
As such the teams rans two cars, one allocated for young drivers, the other for the team regulars. Below are the driver lineups for each team:
Red Bull Racing: Sergio Perez (All Day) / Jake Dennis (All Day)
Mercedes: George Russell (All Day) / Frederik Vesti (All Day)
Ferrari: Carlos Sainz (AM), Charles Leclerc (PM) / Robert Shwartzman (All Day)
McLaren: Oscar Piastri (All Day) / Pato O’Ward (All Day)
Aston Martin: Lance Stroll (AM), Fernando Alonso (PM) / Felipe Drugovich (All Day)
Alpine: Esteban Ocon (All Day) / Jack Doohan (All Day)
Alfa Romeo: Zhou Guanyu (All Day), Theo Pourchaire (All Day)
Haas: Oliver Bearman (All Day), Pietro Fittipaldi (All Day)
The session did not go without any interruptions or delays, as the start was delayed by 25 minutes until the medical helicopter was in place.
Then the track developed a water leak between Turns 13 and 14 which stopped the session for 25 minutes for repairs.
The Russell suffered a failure on his Mercedes crashing at Turn 6 ending his test prematurely and sending the whole paddock into an early lunch break.
Later, there was more drama as the AlphaTauri of Ayumu Iwasa stopped at the end of the pitlane, and required to be extinguished by the marshals.
Abu Dhabi Post Season Test – Team and driver quotes
Red Bull Racing
Sergio Perez said: “It was a very positive day, there was still lots to learn. It was important to put in the time, I drove more than twice the race distance today and I am pleased with the work we have done. Especially coming straight out of a race here, everything is still super fresh and the track was very representative, especially in the afternoon, so it was a productive test. We collected some good information for next season and it’s a great way to finish such a dominant year.”
Jake Dennis added: “What an amazing car! It was a very special day for me. In FP1 you sort of just jump in and try and survive, whereas today you can push the limits a little bit more and really understand the car. And I think we did just that. Between Checo and I, we got a lot of data for the Team. Obviously, my role today was a little bit different to Checo’s, but from my perspective we’ve got a lot of data to take back to the simulator side and try to improve things further for the RB20 and in general development. I enjoyed every lap out there, it’s been a great day.”
Gianpiero Lambiase, Head of Race Engineering, said: “We got through everything that we were hoping to achieve today. For Checo, it was a case of tidying up a few areas that he had some remaining question marks over throughout the season, which we completed and got some really good data. For Jake, it was about getting him even more familiar with the car. We looked at some various trade-offs between mechanical and aero test items that he can then look to provide some feedback on for his race support with us on the simulator, which is vital for us in our development for 2024.”
George Russell said: “Despite the crash, it was still a productive half-a-day in the car. “There was still lots we were able to learn. There was plenty we were able to assess and correlate from the season just gone.
“It’s been a long year, and everyone is tired. We’re all now looking forward to a bit of time off but equally, excited for next season.”
Frederik Vesti added: “It was a really special day for me. I got to push the W14 to its limits and experiencing the car both on high and low fuel at the end of the day.
“The team has been incredible. I was also able to learn from George, looking through the data and having him next to me in the garage.
“I improved consistently through the day and it was great working with the engineers to help me do that. I’m excited to get back to Brackley now and continue my learning in the simulator and the correlation to this test; that will be very interesting.
“Thank you to the team for giving me more track time in the car and I hope to get some more opportunities next year.”
Robert Shwartzman said: “It was a busy day with a lot of running, during which we tested many things, completing a total of 123 laps. Both the team and I are happy with how it went and I really enjoyed driving a Formula 1 car over a full day again. We did some race runs that allowed us to check our pace with the tyre degradation and we definitely gathered valuable information. At the end of the day, we also did some performance runs. Unfortunately, one got interrupted by a red flag and the other one by traffic.
“The plan now is to go back to Maranello for some simulator work, help the engineers there before taking a holiday break after a long season, so as to return fresh next year, which I’m really looking forward to..”
Oscar Piastri said: “The end of season test is complete. It’s been a nice final day on track. We’ve learnt a few new things with the car but also with my own driving, which is always good to work on. Hopefully we can take the momentum from the second half of the season into 2024 and start strong. I’m looking forward to the break. I’ll be seeing everyone at the factory one more time, and then head off on holiday. Thanks to the whole team at McLaren for your support this year, it’s been memorable, and I can’t wait to push on in 2024.”
Pato O’Ward added: “I’m really happy with my day on track today. I got to work on a wide range of areas with high and low fuel runs. It was great to complete lots of laps on the different tyres and it never stops to amaze me how capable these machines are. The car is just fantastic and very enjoyable to drive. Overall, a really positive day in Abu Dhabi with the team. Thank you McLaren for the opportunity. I’m looking forward to getting back in the seat of an F1 car again soon.”
Hiroshi Imai, Director, Race Engineering, said: “It’s been a very productive day in Abu Dhabi as we conclude the 2023 season. We did a lot of test items which we can’t normally cover on a race weekend because of track time and tyre availability. We’ve come away from the test with a lot of learning to understand the tyres and the interaction between the tyre and car characteristics.
“Oscar completed 123 laps, including a lot of long runs, which is helpful for the team to understand tyre behaviour and for Oscar to build on maximising performance in the long stints. Pato did 103 laps, including a variety of long and performance runs with different setups. This was good for him to understand the performance of the car in-depth and tyre degradation characteristics.
“We now return to the factory with a lot of data in hand to analyse over the winter and into pre-season. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work throughout the 2023 season, both at the factory and also trackside, as well to everyone who has supported us, especially the families of our team members for their incredible support.
“We made good progress through the year, but there is still a lot of work to do in order to continue bringing ourselves forward towards the front of the grid in 2024.”
Esteban Ocon said: “The on-track season has officially finished with post-race testing here in Abu Dhabi. We had a very busy day with an important and extensive programme to go through. We ended up doing over two race distances and got through our plan successfully, testing different compounds, fuel loads and set-ups. It’s always nice to see your name next to P1 but on test days these things are irrelevant! We say goodbye to the A523 today, a car that brought us some highs and lows this season but which has also served as a base to emphasise the areas we need to improve in order to be better in 2024. Now it is time for some rest before starting our preparations for next season.”
Jack Doohan added: “It’s been a great day and it’s always nice to have a full day’s testing as there’s that little bit more freedom to explore the car. Driving in Free Practice 1 was an amazing experience last week but on test days, there’s much more to do and the programme is a whole lot bigger and more detailed. Today we ran through a busy checklist, assessed various tyre compounds, fuel loads and set-up items and we completed 108 laps. I would say physically that’s a tough challenge but I feel good and it’s important for the team to have all the data. The car felt good and I’m pleased that we executed our programme well. I felt comfortable, happy with the day’s work and now it’s time for a break from driving before we shift focus to working on next year.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, said: “Today was the final day of running in 2023 and we completed our programmes as planned. The two cars completed 222 laps between them with Alex and Logan sharing the day in one car and Franco and Zak driving the Young Driver car.
“Franco was very good this morning, completing more than 300km without any issues and at good pace. He experienced several of the Pirelli compounds and provided some valuable feedback and interesting comments about the FW45.
“Zak was very quickly up to speed following his running in FP1. He quickly got accustomed to the improved track conditions and was able to find a good rhythm at low and high fuel. He was able to maximise the learning he got on Friday to manage the tyres well and this helped him improve his laptime.
“It was nice to finish the season with a clean and productive day and to end the FW45 running on a high. The whole team have worked tirelessly since February to operate and develop this car and, alongside our colleagues from Mercedes, we can be proud of what we have achieved. The travelling team now join the factory-based team in switching our full focus to FW46 and we are already looking forward to shaking it down in a couple of months’ time.”
Zak O’Sullivan commented: “It’s been an enjoyable day. Of course, for me it was good to have the reference from FP1, so I had a few areas to work on from there. Straight away from the first push lap I was able to match my pace from earlier in the week. It was good to get some proper representative running in also in quite relevant conditions in the middle of the day which was nice. We got through a good sweep of performance runs and race runs. I had more freedom to experiment with things and push a bit harder than FP1. Thanks again to Williams Racing for the opportunity to drive the FW45 this weekend and provide me with valuable experience.”
Franco Colapinto added: “It’s been incredible to get my first taste of a Formula 1 car and to do it with Williams Racing. It’s hard to describe all the emotions, sensations and feelings I’ve went through today. Since I was very little, I’ve been dreaming of this moment of one day jumping in a Formula 1 car. Being able to drive the FW45 was an amazing experience. It’s been a great way to finish my first year as part of the Williams Racing Driver Academy. I tried to make the most of every lap and learn as much as possible. I’m very grateful to everyone one at Williams Racing for giving me this opportunity and the support they’ve shown.”
Ayumu Iwasa said: “Thank you to everyone from Red Bull, Scuderia AlphaTauri, and Honda who made today possible. It was really fantastic and amazing! The morning programme was designed for me to build up the pace progressively and not push to the limit immediately. In the afternoon, I was able to push more when we started putting on new sets of tyres. Unfortunately, we had a car issue before the last push lap of the day that brought it to an early finish. We’re not exactly sure what it was yet, so we’ll continue investigating. I enjoyed the day, gained a huge amount of experience, and learnt a lot of things about the car, the track, and from the team. I know what I learnt today will help me a lot in my future racing.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Ayumu to the team and give him the opportunity to drive the AT04 on its final day of running in 2023. He started the day with some aero mapping work to characterise the car and compare to the tunnel data. It’s something we don’t have the luxury of completing during a usual Friday practice session of race weekends because of the time required to complete it. After a couple of runs with a baseline car, it was clear he was familiarising himself quickly, so we were then able to complete a series of setup tests and tyre work. These confirmed some of our beliefs about the recent setup directions we have explored with the race drivers. We were also able to start building up a database of test item knowledge for next year. Ayumu did a very solid job for the team and didn’t put a foot wrong. His feedback was clear, concise, and aligned with the test items he completed. He closed the day with two soft compound runs and was able to extract a good performance on the first but didn’t get to complete the second stint due to a car issue we’re still investigating. Even with the issue, overall, it was a productive day. We completed all of the test items we had planned, and we could see Ayumu progress throughout. After a very long season, the team now heads back to Europe for a well-deserved break and to reset in preparation for coming back stronger in 2024.”