Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Yas Marina, 2023 post-season test

Ocon leads O’Ward in post-season test as Russell crashes

Formula 1

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Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was fastest in Formula 1’s post-season test day at Yas Marina Circuit with a 1’24.393 lap.

He topped the times by 0.269 seconds, with McLaren’s IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward in second place and Mercedes’ junior driver Frederik Vesti a further 0.017s behind in third.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso completed a top six covered by 0.434s.

The test featured drivers from this year’s grid running on development compounds from tyre supplier Pirelli, and also less familiar faces who were in teams’ cars to fulfil a test requirement that they field runners with no more than two F1 starts to their name.

It was not a good day for Mercedes, despite Formula 2 runner-up Vesti’s strong pace, as they lost several hours of running with one car after George Russell crashed. The team said he was “completely okay” afterwards and they had “begun investigations into what caused the accident.”

Russell ended the day 20th on the timesheet, 1.89s off the pace but still faster than four of his regular rivals from the 2023 grid.

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Newly-crowned Formula 2 championship Theo Pourchaire (Alfa Romeo) and his former rival Ayumu Iwasa (AlphaTauri) were also in action, the latter getting his first experience of F1 machinery. The team fielded Daniel Ricciardo in the morning session in the sister car and then replaced him with team mate Yuki Tsunoda for the afternoon.

Franco Colapinto, Williams, Yas Marina, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: Yas Marina post-season test in pictures
Aston Martin, Ferrari and Williams took the same approach so both of their race drivers could get seat time, while Williams even did the same with their young drivers as Franco Colapinto drove in the morning before handing over the FW45 to Formula 3 rival Zak O’Sullivan.

Haas’ Pietro Fittipaldi did more driving than anyone else, setting 130 laps, followed by Red Bull’s Formula E champion Jake Dennis (124), McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, Aston Martin’s F2 champion Felipe Drugovich and Ferrari’s sportscar-racing reserve driver Robert Shwartzman (all 123). Ferrari got the most running in total, their three drivers completing 258 laps between them.

Although Fittipali was eligible to be considered a young driver by Haas for the purposes of the test, instead he took on the Pirelli development work. F2 star Oliver Bearman, who impressed the team in his appearances for them in practice sessions this year, got a chance to drive in the other car. Jack Doohan was another F2 driver to take part, driving for Alpine.

Aside from Russell’s crash, other disruptions were caused by a late stoppage for Iwasa, a water leak under the W Hotel bridge and a delay to the start of the session as the medical helicopter wasn’t ready.

This article will be updated.

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2023 Abu Dhabi post-season test times

Pos.Car numberDriverTeamModelBest timeGapLaps
131Esteban OconAlpineA5231’24.393110
229Pato O’WardMcLarenMCL601’24.6620.269103
342Frederik VestiMercedesW141’24.6790.286106
411Sergio PerezRed BullRB191’24.7150.322117
555Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’24.7990.40669
614Fernando AlonsoAston MartinAMR231’24.8270.43437
761Jack DoohanAlpineA5231’25.0380.645108
839Robert ShwartzmanFerrariSF-231’25.0500.657123
92Logan SargeantWilliamsFW451’25.2630.87056
1016Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’25.3710.97866
1198Theo PourchaireAlfa RomeoC431’25.4241.03196
1234Felipe DrugovichAston MartinAMR231’25.5541.161123
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauriAT041’25.5701.17759
1436Jake DennisRed BullRB191’25.6661.273124
1541Ayumu IwasaAlphaTauriAT041’25.7531.36096
1650Oliver BearmanHaasVF-231’25.7791.386110
1745Zak O’SullivanWilliamsFW451’25.8421.44950
1881Oscar PiastriMcLarenMCL601’25.9301.537123
1951Pietro FittipaldiHaasVF-231’25.9401.547130
2063George RussellMercedesW141’26.2831.89058
2118Lance StrollAston MartinAMR231’26.6812.28850
2246Franco CollapintoWilliamsFW451’26.8322.43965
233Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauriAT041’26.9652.57255
2424Guanyu ZhouAlfa RomeoC431’27.3872.994106
2523Alexander AlbonWilliamsFW451’27.8243.43151

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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19 comments on “Ocon leads O’Ward in post-season test as Russell crashes”

  1. That’s a great performance from Vesti. I wonder if Mercedes will pay Williams to take him and drop Sargeant?

    1. That’s definitely a valid rumour I’ve heard, but personally the F2 field of 2023 did not really impress me and I don’t see anyone from 2023 joining F1 in the future.

      Remains to be seen whether a rookie in 2024 can come in and change that, maybe Bortoleto or O’Sullivan. Mini and Beganovic in F3 are interesting names too.

      1. Indeed, it’s not the most impressive field (at least in terms of consistency from any driver). Still, we’re talking about replacing someone who impressed far less in that same F2. Vesti could be a nice step up. But what do I know really… It’s hard to do anything but guess really. F1 tests tell us nothing, and F2 cars are much different from F1 (they are actually harder to drive).
        One thing I’m certain of. Williams have one decent and one slow driver. They can’t lose by replacing Sargeant with someone like Vesti. How worse could it be? Sargeant was gifted one point by luck and that’s all he could achieve; normally he was nowhere near points. Williams would do better if he didn’t drive at all and save some money on cars, staff and his own salary. And even if he improves, it doesn’t seem likely that he would ever reach Albon’s level. And Albon is a very decent driver, but hardly a top 5 driver in F1. Second driver should be at least relatively close to him, not half a second off or worse.

        1. Agreed. Williams have nothing to lose by trying someone else in that car. Taking a Mercedes driver, which they have often done in the past, will likely help them financially too. Put Logan in a test/reserve role for a year. Albon will only get better if he’s being pushed by a fast team mate.

        2. @shimks @chrischrill Nothing concrete about those rumors, but merely something from third-party individuals whose words don’t matter because they don’t speak for the relevant teams.
          Dex Even luck needs to be earned by running close enough to points-scoring positions to benefit from DSQs or post-race time penalties.

        3. It’s hard to do anything but guess really. F1 tests tell us nothing, and F2 cars are much different from F1 (they are actually harder to drive).

          If only there was a short competitive event that could give prospective F1 drivers and opportunity to practice their craft in an F1 car.
          Maybe we could call it a Sprint. and run it on the Saturday at some/all the GP venues.

    2. Anything would be better than Sargeant. If Max was at Williams I might forgive his gaps and quali shut out, but it’s against Albon. He clearly lacks the spare mental capacity in the car become anything special.

    3. I doubt it. Those in the know are saying Vesti is not Mercedes preferred junior driver (that’s Andrea Kimi Antonelli) so there would be no rush to get him an F1 drive. Besides, Williams have their own crop of juniors to look after as well, it doesn’t say much for the faith they have in their own programme if their first graduate gets dumped after a season for the number 2 guy in a rival team’s programme.

      1. Yes, very true what you say, @geemac. And yes, I’ve been hearing that name ‘Andrea Kimi Antonelli’ more and more.

  2. Renan Martinuzzo
    28th November 2023, 18:28

    Why didn’t McLaren run both Bortoleto and O’ward?

    Pato has shown quality enough to earn a reserve driver role, but is totally out of the cards for an F1 drive. If he were a serious option, McLaren wouldn’t have tried to sign Palou and got into the mess with Piastri last year.

    Giving the drive to the reigning F3 champion, someone that is possibly much closer to getting into F1 level than Pato, seems to me a much more obvious option.

    1. Not too bad a job by young rookie Oscar Piastri today, just 1.3 seconds off Mclaren’s more experienced senior driver, Pato O’Ward.
      Why would you promote an F3 driver instead of Indycar? Ah, now I see, F3 shares F1’s philosophy of using tyres made of cheese, and recently extended that contract to 2027. That level of restraint needed – to never drive a racing car as fast as it can go – must be difficult for Indycar drivers to comprehend…

    2. I think you’re being a bit harsh on Pato. Palou was already an Indycar champion when McLaren signed him and ran him as reserve. That’s all collapsed now which is why Pato is reserve.
      Is Pato good enough for F1? It’s hard to say without him getting track time. F1 is so different to other motorsports, it’s incredibly difficult for any but the very best to adapt fast.

  3. Dammit George, just after you had a good weekend!

  4. Does anyone know what was being tested at this test? In previous years they’ve used this after-season event to test the following year’s tyres but I don’t think anything like that is changing. It is too early for them to test 2024 designs, and too late for them to do any more useful testing on the 2023 cars. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have had testing days mid-season?

    1. It’s a tyre test. They will have been using this year’s cars.

      Wondering why Ferrari didn’t have to run a young driver – anyone know?

      1. @frood19 Ferrari ran Robert Schwartzman. Oli Bearman, who drove the Haas, is also a Ferrari junior.

      2. Frood, thank you. I didn’t know they were changing tyres for next year. Do you know how they will be changing?

    2. Some tyre development work as others mentioned, some driver evaluation and some kit that may be used in future on the cars, possibly some updates to control parts that they don’t want to have tested in a free practice session. Mostly driver evaluation really as the ‘main’ drivers have just run there and they can get decent data references. Some aero sensor runs for CFD/sim/wind tunnel correlation as well I’d expect.

  5. Ah yes, so now they let Perez test!1!!

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