Nyck de Vries was comfortably fastest for Mercedes on the first of two days that comprise F1’s post-season test in Abu Dhabi.
Less than 48 hours after the season finale, Formula 1 was back on track at the Yas Marina circuit preparing for the 2022 campaign.
All 10 teams took to the Abu Dhabi circuit on Tuesday for the start of the post-season Pirelli tyre test and also the traditional Young Driver test.
The youngsters, including McLaren’s IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward, put in the laps in a 2021 Formula 1 car with 13-inch wheels, while the lads who will be lining up next season tested ‘mule’ cars fitted with the new 18-inch tyres.
The only team that did not have a ‘mule’ car was Williams, potentially putting the team on the back foot even before the first lap of the 2022 season. For that same reason, Williams had not been involved in the tyre testing that took place at various venues throughout this year.
Newly-crowned World Champion Max Verstappen, having recovered from a hangover and his “regrettable” last drink in the early hours of Monday morning, was in action.
But while the Red Bull driver was putting in his first laps as a World Champion, others were putting in their first with their 2022 teams.
Williams gave George Russell the go-ahead to drive for Mercedes, who in turn permitted Valtteri Bottas to test with Alfa Romeo.
— Charles Leclerc Fan Page (@LeclercNews) December 14, 2021
They mixed it up with the youngsters, potentially Formula 1’s next generation.
The young drivers were largely able to clock the faster times in their machinery and it was De Vries, the 2019 Formula 2 champion, who topped the timesheet by 1.323 seconds from Liam Lawson in the AlphaTauri.
For the New Zealander, who is a member of the Red Bull Academy, it was a first run in a Formula 1 car and he will have been pleased to emerge as best of this year’s Formula 2 cohort who were taking part.
They included the new champion in that category, Oscar Piastri, who next year will focus on being Alpine’s reserve driver and he was only six thousandths of a second slower than Lawson’s best time.
Daniel Ricciardo brought out the red flags in the morning session, the Australian stopping in the final sector for an as yet unconfirmed reason.
— SalaStampaF1 (@SalaStampaF1) December 14, 2021
The session was red flagged for 15 minutes before play got back under way.
Nevertheless, Ricciardo, who was able to complete 95 laps, was fastest of those in the ‘mule’ cars on the 2022 tyres.
To put that into context, he was 1.6 seconds slower than IndyCar driver O’Ward, who was making a ‘guest’ appearance in the McLaren as a reward for winning a race for the Arrow McLaren SP team this year.
1 Nyck de Vries (Mercedes) 1:23.194
2 Liam Lawson (AlphaTauri) 1:24.517
3 Oscar Piastri (Alpine) 1:24.523
4 Pato O’Ward (McLaren) 1:24.607
5 Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo) 1:25.142
6 Juri Vips (Red Bull) 1:25.198
7 Nick Yelloly (Aston Martin) 1:25.333
8 Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) 1:26.252
9 Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) 1:26.579
10 Robert Shwartzman (Ferrari) 1:26.694
11 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:26.989
12 Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) 1:27.183
13 Antonio Fuoco (Ferrari) 1:27.324
14 Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) 1:27.348
15 Logan Sargeant (Williams) 1:27.476
16 Esteban Ocon (Alpine) 1:27.553
17 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:28.013
18 George Russell (Mercedes) 1:28.062
19 Mick Schumacher (Haas) 1:28.499