Fernando Alonso, Renault, Yas Marina, 2020

Alonso leads Mercedes duo in Abu Dhabi young drivers’ test

2020 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso put in the fastest time at the post-season test, beating Mercedes’ Formula One rookie Nyck De Vries by two tenths of a second.

Alonso drove the full day for Renault, putting in 105 laps, seven more than temporary team mate and Renault academy driver Guanyu Zhou.

Robert Shwartzman put in the most laps of the day, finishing eleventh-fastest for Ferrari, who collectively ran by far the most mileage as Antonio Fuoco also put in 126 laps for a combined 255.

Mercedes cut short Stoffel Vandoorne’s running for PR obligations, according to the former McLaren driver. However, he still finished the day third fastest after 82 laps. just behind Mercedes Formula E team mate De Vries, out in his first ever F1 test.

Yuki Tsunoda completed 123 laps for AlphaTauri, finishing with the fifth-fastest time and ahead of both Red Bull cars. Mick Schumacher ran the only car Haas entered into the test, completing 125 laps but finishing slowest.

McLaren and Racing Point had opted earlier in the season not to participate in the test.

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Session times

Number Driver Team Car Time (m) Laps
14 Fernando Alonso Renault RS20 1’36.333 105
21 Nyck de Vries Mercedes W11 1’36.595 110
22 Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes W11 1’36.84 82
99 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo C39 1’37.446 89
38 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri AT01 1’37.557 123
25 Juri Vips Red Bull RB16 1’37.77 101
32 Antonio Fuoco Ferrari SF1000 1’37.817 126
37 Callum Ilott Alfa Romeo C39 1’37.826 93
45 Guanyu Zhou Renault RS20 1’37.902 98
89 Jack Aitken Williams FW43 1’38.153 78
35 Robert Shwartzman Ferrari SF1000 1’38.157 129
24 Sebastien Buemi Red Bull RB16 1’38.284 77
39 Marino Sato AlphaTauri AT01 1’38.495 127
40 Roy Nissany Williams FW43 1’39.8 75
50 Mick Schumacher Haas VF-20 1’39.947 125

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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55 comments on “Alonso leads Mercedes duo in Abu Dhabi young drivers’ test”

  1. That time by Alonso would’ve put him top 6 in Sunday’s GP starting grid and ahead of Riicciardo and Ocon. I’m excited for next year if Renault can keep improving the car like this, there’s no reason Alonso won’t be able to fight for podiums and the occasional win.

    1. The numbers are good for someone out of F1 for two years. Being ahead of RIC and OCO is not important. It is important he got similar times with the same tires (C5). Alonso has always been even better during race than in qualy, so IMHO, I think next season we will see a larger difference between ALO and OCO than this year between RIC and OCO. Anyway, the car makes the difference between teams no matter what pilot you hire.

    2. I dont think times can be compared, for qualy in the last race surely there are much more restrictions then a single test. This laptime is just to create good impression over his return, as if he was not in the top, everybody would be saying “Alonso is not the same anymore?” and Alonso can’t swallow it with his ego.

    3. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      17th December 2020, 9:54

      ?? Maybe I am reading it wrong – Alonso did 1:36,333 which is a mere 0.026 faster than what Ocon did in Q2.
      The 10th time in Q2 was Kyvat with 1:36,282 so Alonso would not have made it through Q2 and would have qualified 11th – starting 10th (same as Ocon) due to Leclerc’s grid penalty.

  2. Alonso’s time would have qualified him ahead of Ocon and Ricciardo in this weekend’s GP (albeit only just). Renault really allowed him to do glory laps.

    1. I think the track being rubbered in alone would do the job on that @matthijs. But I agree that it will have been done on purpose for making Alonso feel good and a signal to the bosses (whoever is going to appoint the new boss) that they are on the good path with him.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        15th December 2020, 17:02

        Just having a Twitter debate on this very thing. Alonso could not have been running less fuel than the Renaults were during qualy. The rubber on the track made a difference for sure but remember the qualy modes? Renault had to choose one they could race with for 55 laps. Alonso could have changed his to max for one lap.

      2. Funny. If this was Hulkenberg everyone on here would be gushing about how amazing he is after a couple weeks out of a car. Since it’s Alonso out of a car for a few years it’s no big deal.

        1. And by Hulkenberg, I mean Hulkenberg in the latter half of the time charts Hulkenberg. Not at the top.

        2. It’s not big deal @darryn because a) the track has had a race run on it, b) conditions are different, c) he shouldn’t even be at the test in the first place (ok, that last one is a cheapshot I admit).

          If you don’t believe me, look at Kubica’s time compared to 1’38.248 for Giovinazzi in qualifying (faster than Kimi). Do you really think Kubica is 8 tenths faster?

          1. Ok correction: Kimi set a 1’37.555 in Q1, but Kubica is still quicker than this. I think that signals that conditions were quicker.

    2. Danny Ric’s time in Red Bull test in 2010 driving Seb’s pole winning car was a second faster


      Makes Alonso’s time look rather meh.

      1. That’s comparing no.1 in qualifying to no.1 in the test… look down that list and No.2 Jerome d’Ambrosio’s time was 1.8s quicker than the fastest Renault (Petrov, Q2) the prior weekend. Sam Bird in a Mercedes, 0.8s quicker than Rosberg (Q2). Looks to be a massive difference in weekend vs. test conditions that year.

        Of note however…

        Gary Paffett in the Mclaren being 0.3s slower than Hamilton managed in Q3. And the positively bright star Jules Bianchi being 0.2s slower than a certain Fernando Alonso had managed in Q3. This among others to not be faster than respective teammates in qualifying the weekend prior.

        All that to say is your decade old comparative measure is of little use, as is all speculative comparisons of different drivers even two days apart. Surely all today’s times show is that Alonso is there or thereabouts, which after a few years out is probably about where we all hope, expect or loath him to be.

  3. So, did cars run any 2021 floors/wings etc? Like the ones RB seemed to be sporting when they were testing the 2021 tyres on friday?

    Alonso being fastest – I am sure that Renault knew why they made sure he would be there at the end of the day. Apart from that, and the fact the track seemed to be better rubbered in after the weekend running, the times don’t really tell us anything much.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      15th December 2020, 15:32

      @bascb No, cars have to be the spec that raced in 2020. No experimental parts allowed. It’s not allowed to be a development test for teams, just a “young” drivers test. What I’m not sure about is which tyres they were on, 2020 or 2021. The Abu Dhabi GP was run with the softest compounds available so if 2020 tyres, Alonso did a great job. I think 2021 tyres are actually slower so would be surprised if they were the 21 tyres.

      1. Ah, right, I had forgotten about that @davewillisporter. Thanks for clearing that up.

        Pretty sure these are also the regular 2020 tyres then, they have the markings of regular ones. Surely Renault took a bit of fuel out to make sure he was on top. Decent job, but I am convinced the Mercedes and Red Bull cars could have managed faster times at the same fuel loads.

    2. YES, Renault had knowledge of every other teams strategy for today, so used that knowledge to ask Alonso to drive faster than the parameters of the other teans. Give me a break.

  4. That Fernando lad, that is one very promising rookie. :)

    1. I bet he ll go on to become multiple world champion. Mark my words.

      1. @barkun Seems unrealistic. :)

        1. He’s looking faster than current (F2) champ, Schumacher.

  5. Its funny, the old drivers match and beat the young drivers. Top 3 of 4 times are alonso 39, kubica 36 and vandoorne 28. Alonso and Kubica with quicker times than their teams race drivers in saturday qualifying, Young hyoed up driver Schumacher jr. last.

    1. What’s really funny and amazing is when you add up all the lap times and divide it by the sum of the racing numbers.

      1. Oh yeh,.. Nah your not funny sorry

        1. Don’t feel sorry, sarcastic responses to irrelevant posts are rarely understood and appreciated even less so.

          1. I guess humour is a very subjective thing then…

  6. Not glory laps, they ran to a program if you had cared to follow the test session. If he had glory laps than so did every other driver today. What it was, it was a qualifying simulation lap. And the track was no rubbed in, it had a 2 day pause and less drivers on track.

    1. A track does not “unrubber” in 2 days without activities – it was only 1 day btw, they raced on sunday and this is tuesday. We’ve seen cars running lapping faster than the fastest laps during the race weekends quite regularly at these tests.

      Not saying Alonso is not doing a good job (I would expect him to, he is good), but he is not suddenly clearly faster than either Renault driver after a day in the car. And he is not faster than the likes of Red Bull or Mercedes.

      The conclusion is that Renault did give him some running on lower fuel, or with somewhat more potent engine settings to achieve that by plan.

      1. @bascb Not really regularly. Only in Hungary’s 2018 post-GP test, but not in other post-event tests in the recent past.

        1. I am pretty sure I remember things about RB junior drivers being faster than the regulars. But then maybe “recent” is somewhat blurred over time @jerejj

          1. @bascb Could be concerning the RB juniors, but my reference was more specifically a comparison of fastest testing time versus fastest race weekend time (usually pole time).

          2. yes, well before 2014 a fast RB junior could also be faster than the pole time here if they beat the regular drivers, right.

    2. Wow KP is BACK with a vengeance !!! Missed you KP x what did you think about WDC No 7 For Lewis?

  7. Can someone please explain me why Nissany and Schumacher were lapping far in the 1’39.? I mean the gap to the 3rd slowest Driver was over a second…. It can not be a matter of experience as Tsunoda was a lot quicker.

    1. The Haas is a complete dog of a car for one

    2. They were not auditioning Zink. Just getting to run in the car doing whatever data gathering the team wanted to prepare for the future. They would have solid fuel loads and almost certainly somewhat lower power modes.

      1. @bascb Agree with this, quantity and not quality will be the order of the day as testing latest cars is now is so limited. Absolutely no point going for glory and binning it, especially if you are the first driver!

    3. @Zink Lap times are pretty irrelevant in these tests.

  8. Alonso with a better laptime than Ocon and Ricciardo in qualifying. This new young spanish driver must be really good

  9. The lesson of the day: These lap times are meaningless for the same reasons as in pre-season testing, so no point reading into them a lot.

    1. @jerejj the problem is more that most reports focus solely on the headline times, which tend to be the easiest to report on, but not the most informative. Now, if they were able to report on trends from longer stints that simulated race pace, that might provide some more useful information.

      1. The thing is, did anybody actually GET such information to work with Anon? I guess only someone who would be in the media centre or with a team right now would actually know those times. Or were they shown on the live timing apps?

  10. Talented kid, I think he’s got future. Joking aside, it doesn’t feel right seeing a grown man playing with children.

  11. Kid’s a natural.

  12. Alonso’s done well. Whether rubbered in track or not, he’s smashed the all conquering Mercs.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      15th December 2020, 17:46

      @deanfranklin what, the ones that lost the race? “All conquering” ???

      1. Bottas was only a fraction off of Verstappen and we know that Bottas isn’t much good because a 22 year beat him 48 hours after getting in a car set up for Louis for the first time.

      2. The ones that won seven constructors and seven WDC titles in a row and had nothing to prove during the final race of the season.

  13. These times reflect absolutely nothing.
    We all know that with Alonso they always do things to see him better than reality.
    Then comes the truth and their usual cheap excuses and team criticism come up.

  14. Alonso this, Alonso that, why don’t some of you accept that he is one of the world’s best drivers…
    Like him or not, he is going to make the 2021 season much more interesting. Fireworks with Ricciardo I think McLaren will be close.
    Viva Fernando…! (I don’t like his personality but his driving skills)

    1. Schumacher is my favourite driver, but I like alonso, I think he’d fit the top 10 drivers of all times as well, now he’s probably lost some performance (I don’t say it based on the test ofc) because of his age being over 35, but I think he’d be among hamilton performance wise on the same car; verstappen, leclerc and russel are much younger and he can’t be expected to match them speed wise, but overall on a full season he should be up there.

    2. If McLaren can get the Mercedes engine working, the performance gain itself would propel them.

  15. Should’ve been called the Post-Season Test instead.

  16. Them young drivers are really good this year.

    Except Schumacher. That Haas is really slow.

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