The racing may be over but it was all systems go in Abu Dhabi for another packed day of F1 news, as post-season testing took place at Yas Marina.
A total of 25 drivers were on track all day as young driver testing and 2024 tyre testing took place, while more reaction to the weekend’s season finale filtered through.
With additional reporting from Thomas Maher on the ground in Abu Dhabi, here’s a look at the best of Tuesday’s headlines.
Toto Wolff: ‘The real Lewis Hamilton comes alive’ with wins on the table
Having now gone two full seasons without a victory in an underperforming Mercedes, questions about whether or not Lewis Hamilton will be able to compete at the front in the next couple of seasons will grow louder if the team do not produce a title-worthy car.
Toto Wolff admitted the responsibility is on Mercedes to give the seven-time World Champion the platform to perform, and he firmly believes Hamilton is a driver who rises to the challenge even more when the fight for wins is there.
“If we are able to give him a car then he will be fighting for a World Championship. I have no doubt,” Wolff told media including PlanetF1.com in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s clear that when you have an F1 car like we have now, you are never at ease with it. And you have good weekends and bad weekends.
“But at the end, every time when we’ve seen that Lewis has somebody in his target in front of him. and it was about winning the race, then the real Lewis comes alive, and I think we just need to give him a car.”
Max Verstappen hires new performance coach for 2024
After a report from Dutch media circulated that Max Verstappen would be splitting from performance coach Bradley Scanes at the end of the season, the three-time World Champion appears to already have his replacement lined up.
With Scanes reportedly splitting with the Red Bull driver to spend more time with family in an ever-more gruelling F1 schedule, Verstappen looks set to partner with a new coach with plenty of paddock experience.
Multiple sources have now claimed that Rupert Manwaring, has now been hired by Verstappen to work alongside him from next season, having been alongside former Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz for the past eight seasons.
Final day of on-track running in 2023 happens in Abu Dhabi
The final chance for Formula 1’s class of 2023 to have meaningful on-track running took place on Tuesday, with Esteban Ocon topping the timesheets for Alpine in Abu Dhabi.
A total of 25 drivers took to the track for a mixture of young driver and tyre testing around Yas Marina on Tuesday, with McLaren reserve Pato O’Ward and Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti putting in late laps to round out the top three.
Several youngsters clocked over 100 laps as they gained vital experience of what they hope will become full-time drives one day, and Pirelli gained crucial data that will inform their 2024 tyre constructions.
A crash for George Russell ended his day early, with Mercedes subsequently confirming to PlanetF1.com that a component failure caused him to collide with the barriers at the Turn 6 hairpin in the morning session, but he was okay to climb out of the car unscathed.
Pato O’Ward full of enthusiasm after latest F1 run-out
IndyCar driver O’Ward was beaming after his latest run in a Formula 1 car, having now done several TPC [testing of previous car] days with McLaren.
Now officially a reserve driver with the team for next year, the Mexican driver revealed the one area he has been focusing on to make him primed for a Formula 1 seat, if the opportunity ever arises.
“The limitation here for sure is the neck, but I did over 100 laps today and my neck was a champ. I’m so proud!” He told media including PlanetF1.com after climbing out of the cockpit.
“You have no idea how much work I’ve done on my neck the past two years, I have destroyed it day and day after day after day to withstand what these cars are capable of.
“In the quick corners, it is unbelievable just how much speed you can carry in and then how much you can carry out, you get onto the throttle in places where you’re like, ‘There’s no way’ and the thing is just planted and it goes, it’s awesome.”
Everyone’s favourite F1 show has its 2024 release date
Netflix’s sixth series of fly-on-the-wall Drive to Survive will be available on the streaming platform from Friday 23rd February 2024, it was confirmed on Tuesday.
Having been hugely credited as a key factor behind propelling the sport’s phenomenal jump in popularity around the world, the newest instalment will follow all the goings-on in the 2023 season.
While the on-track action (for non-Max Verstappen fans, at least) did not serve much variety at the front, the storylines will no doubt be aplenty as ever.