Abu Dhabi testing: Esteban Ocon tops final session of 2023, Pato O’Ward impresses

Henry Valantine
Pato O'Ward tests for McLaren in Abu Dhabi.

IndyCar driver and McLaren reserve Pato O'Ward impressed with his speed in Abu Dhabi post-season testing.

Esteban Ocon topped the timesheets in the post-season tyre test around Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, with young driver running also taking place at Yas Marina.

McLaren reserve driver Pato O’Ward finished second quickest of all on the day, with conditions improving for the drivers as the track cooled towards the end of the day.

Mercedes driver George Russell made contact with the barriers at Turn 6 earlier in the day to put a premature halt to his running, Mercedes subsequently confirming to PlanetF1.com that a component issue caused that problem for the Silver Arrows.

Youngsters impress alongside familiar faces in Abu Dhabi testing

Carlos Sainz had topped the timing sheets following the morning session around Yas Marina, but there were driver changes aplenty for the afternoon and evening as more young drivers took the wheel, along with established race drivers collecting vital tyre data for Pirelli.

Just like their counterparts from the morning, the day was all about putting laps on the board for those entrusted with their cars for the afternoon as the 2023 cars got their final taste of meaningful action.

Frederik Vesti took the reins for Mercedes as they fulfilled their young driver obligations, fresh off the back of finishing runner-up t0 Théo Pourchaire in the Formula 2 title battle – with the Frenchman in action for Alfa Romeo on Tuesday.

The 50-minute interruption following Russell’s crash in the morning meant the planned lunch hour was shortened significantly before the cars got back out on track, meaning the drivers could make the most of the time that was available to them.

The vast majority of the drivers took part in the morning’s action, with only Zak O’Sullivan and Logan Sargeant subbing in for Alex Albon and Franco Colapinto at Williams, along with Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda joining the running at their respective teams as 25 different drivers took part in post-season testing.

And once the temperature peaked in Abu Dhabi, the conditions allowed for lap times to improve, with Ocon moving ahead at the top within the final hour and O’Ward nipping in behind the Alpine driver.

Ocon was able to lower his benchmark further still while IndyCar star O’Ward followed by lowering his quickest time to a 1:24.662, but Vesti lowered his time to just 0.017s behind O’Ward within the final minutes of the day to be third quickest on the day, and with both rookies clocking over 100 laps apiece, it will have been a valuable day behind the wheel.

Other rookies notched a century of laps of Yas Marina to help bolster their Formula 1 experience too, with Jack Doohan, Robert Shwartzman, Felipe Drugovich, Jake Dennis and Oliver Bearman all clearing that barrier as they got used to the demands of driving Formula 1 cars.

A late red flag for a breakdown for Red Bull junior Ayumu Iwasa stopped him short on 96 laps, with smoke billowing out of his engine at Turn 16, but it will have been a worthwhile day for him behind the wheel of an AlphaTauri nonetheless.

To catch up with any of the day’s action as it happened, you can read PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher’s live blog of all the day’s action right here.

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Abu Dhabi post-season testing 2023 classification

[YD denotes Young Driver; T denotes tyre testing]

1 Esteban OCON Alpine 1:24.393 [T] 110 laps
2 Patricio O’WARD McLaren 1:24.662 [YD] 103 laps
3 Frederik VESTI Mercedes 1:24.679 [YD] 106 laps
4 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull 1:24.715 [T] 117 laps
5 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari 1:24.799 [T] 69 laps
6 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin 1:24.827 [T] 37 laps
7 Jack DOOHAN Alpine 1:25.038 [YD] 108 laps
8 Robert SHWARTZMAN Ferrari 1:25.050 [YD] 123 laps
9 Logan SARGEANT Williams 1:25.263 [T] 56 laps
10 Charles LECLERC Ferrari 1:25.371 [T] 66 laps
11 Théo POURCHAIRE Alfa Romeo 1:25.424 [YD 96 laps
12 Felipe DRUGOVICH Aston Martin 1:25.554 [YD] 123 laps
13 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri 1:25.570 [T] 59 laps
14 Jake DENNIS Red Bull 1:25.666 [YD] 124 laps
15 Ayumu IWASA AlphaTauri 1:25.753 [YD] 96 laps
16 Oliver BEARMAN Haas 1:25.779 [YD] 110 laps
17 Zak O’SULLIVAN Williams 1:25.842 [YD] 50 laps
18 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren 1:25.930 [T] 123 laps
19 Pietro FITTIPALDI Haas 1:25.940 [T] 130 laps
20 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:26.283 [T] 58 laps
21 Lance STROLL Aston Martin 1:26.681 [T] 50 laps
22 Franco COLAPINTO Williams 1:26.832 [YD] 65 laps
23 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri 1:26.965 [T] 55 laps
24 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:27.387 [T] 106 laps
25 Alex ALBON Williams 1:27.824 [T] 51 laps

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