Host of F1 drivers reflect on the Abu Dhabi Test which ended the official running in 2023 ahead of the winter break.

The 2023 running officially ended with the one-day test in Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina circuit where Pirelli ran its 2024 compound with some regular drivers and or reserves. Along with the tyre testing, the young drivers also got their due in the second car.

Each of the 10 F1 teams had young drivers where some of them used their FP1 runners from the 2023 season. But there were two fresh names on the list as well with Williams running Franco Colapinto for half a day, while AlphaTauri had Ayumu Iwasa for full day.

The FP1 runners filling up the sports saw the likes of Jack Doohan (Alpine), Frederik Vesti (Mercedes), Theo Pourchaire (Alfa Romeo), Oliver Bearman (Haas), Robert Shwartzman (Ferrari), Jake Dennis (Red Bull), Zak O’Sullivan (Williams), Felipe Drugovich (Aston Martin) and Patricio O’Ward (McLaren).

Among the regulars, the list had Esteban Ocon (Alpine), George Russell (Mercedes), Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Alexander Albon & Logan Sargeant (Williams), Oscar Piastri (McLaren), Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), Daniel Ricciardo & Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Fernando Alonso & Lance Stroll (Aston Martin).

Only Haas chose to run its reserve Pietro Fittipaldi instead of its regulars, with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas not in action.

The day went through smoothly mostly apart from problems for Iwasa and Russell having a barrier moment after a part failed at Turn 6. Others mostly managed to run good amount of laps despite some loss of time in between due to minor issues.

Pirelli noted about wet weather running at Magny-Cours next week with Mercedes, after sharing some statistics from the Abu Dhabi F1 test, which went like: “The regular drivers each had 10 tyre sets available (one set of C1 and C2, three sets of C3 and C4, plus one set of C5) while the young drivers had eight sets each (two sets of C3, four sets of C4, and two sets of C5).

“A total of 2184 laps were covered: 125 on C1 (6%), 138 on C2 (6%), 718 on C3 (33%), 942 on C4 (43%), and 261 on C5 (12%). That’s compared to the 2681 laps that were covered during last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, equivalent to 14158 kilometres.”

Here’s what the F1 drivers said – 

Ocon: “The on-track season has officially finished with post-race testing here in Abu Dhabi. We had a very busy day with an important and extensive programme to go through. We ended up doing over two race distances and got through our plan successfully, testing different compounds, fuel loads and set-ups. It’s always nice to see your name next to P1 but on test days these things are irrelevant! We say goodbye to the A523 today, a car that brought us some highs and lows this season but which has also served as a base to emphasise the areas we need to improve in order to be better in 2024. Now it is time for some rest before starting our preparations for next season.”

Doohan: “It’s been a great day and it’s always nice to have a full day’s testing as there’s that little bit more freedom to explore the car. Driving in Free Practice 1 was an amazing experience last week but on test days, there’s much more to do and the programme is a whole lot bigger and more detailed. Today we ran through a busy checklist, assessed various tyre compounds, fuel loads and set-up items and we completed 108 laps. I would say physically that’s a tough challenge but I feel good and it’s important for the team to have all the data. The car felt good and I’m pleased that we executed our programme well. I felt comfortable, happy with the day’s work and now it’s time for a break from driving before we shift focus to working on next year.”

Iwasa: “Thank you to everyone from Red Bull, Scuderia AlphaTauri, and Honda who made today possible. It was really fantastic and amazing! The morning programme was designed for me to build up the pace progressively and not push to the limit immediately. In the afternoon, I was able to push more when we started putting on new sets of tyres. Unfortunately, we had a car issue before the last push lap of the day that brought it to an early finish. We’re not exactly sure what it was yet, so we’ll continue investigating. I enjoyed the day, gained a huge amount of experience, and learnt a lot of things about the car, the track, and from the team. I know what I learnt today will help me a lot in my future racing.”

O’Sullivan: “It’s been an enjoyable day. Of course, for me it was good to have the reference from FP1, so I had a few areas to work on from there. Straight away from the first push lap I was able to match my pace from earlier in the week. It was good to get some proper representative running in also in quite relevant conditions in the middle of the day which was nice. We got through a good sweep of performance runs and race runs. I had more freedom to experiment with things and push a bit harder than FP1. Thanks again to Williams Racing for the opportunity to drive the FW45 this weekend and provide me with valuable experience.”

Colapinto: “It’s been incredible to get my first taste of a Formula 1 car and to do it with Williams Racing. It’s hard to describe all the emotions, sensations and feelings I’ve went through today. Since I was very little, I’ve been dreaming of this moment of one day jumping in a Formula 1 car. Being able to drive the FW45 was an amazing experience. It’s been a great way to finish my first year as part of the Williams Racing Driver Academy. I tried to make the most of every lap and learn as much as possible. I’m very grateful to everyone one at Williams Racing for giving me this opportunity and the support they’ve shown.”

Piastri: “The end of season test is complete. It’s been a nice final day on track. We’ve learnt a few new things with the car but also with my own driving, which is always good to work on. Hopefully we can take the momentum from the second half of the season into 2024 and start strong. I’m looking forward to the break. I’ll be seeing everyone at the factory one more time, and then head off on holiday. Thanks to the whole team at McLaren for your support this year, it’s been memorable, and I can’t wait to push on in 2024.”

O’Ward: “I’m really happy with my day on track today. I got to work on a wide range of areas with high and low fuel runs. It was great to complete lots of laps on the different tyres and it never stops to amaze me how capable these machines are. The car is just fantastic and very enjoyable to drive. Overall, a really positive day in Abu Dhabi with the team. Thank you McLaren for the opportunity. I’m looking forward to getting back in the seat of an F1 car again soon.”

Perez: “It was a very positive day, there was still lots to learn. It was important to put in the time, I drove more than twice the race distance today and I am pleased with the work we have done. Especially coming straight out of a race here, everything is still super fresh and the track was very representative, especially in the afternoon, so it was a productive test. We collected some good information for next season and it’s a great way to finish such a dominant year.”

Dennis: “What an amazing car! It was a very special day for me. In FP1 you sort of just jump in and try and survive, whereas today you can push the limits a little bit more and really understand the car. And I think we did just that. Between Checo and I, we got a lot of data for the Team. Obviously, my role today was a little bit different to Checo’s, but from my perspective we’ve got a lot of data to take back to the simulator side and try to improve things further for the RB20 and in general development. I enjoyed every lap out there, it’s been a great day.”

Bearman: “It was a long day here in Abu Dhabi at the test. We finished two grand prix distances – it was pretty intensive; I think I’ll feel it tomorrow. We got some really good mileage for the team and worked through some important aero work. It all went to plan, all went really well. I’m happy to have completed everything and had a lot of mileage in the F1 car. The track time was also good preparation for my F2 tests, happening from tomorrow through to Friday. We put some rubber down today for the F2 test which is nice!”

Fittipaldi: “It was a good day of testing here in Abu Dhabi, we completed 130 laps testing different Pirelli compounds. It was an amazing day, as always, working with everyone at MoneyGram Haas F1 Team. It’s always amazing to drive a Formula 1 car, it just has so much downforce and it’s so fast in the corners – it’s everything a driver wants in a race car. It was a very productive day and a big thanks to the team.”

Shwartzman: “It was a busy day with a lot of running, during which we tested many things, completing a total of 123 laps. Both the team and I are happy with how it went and I really enjoyed driving a Formula 1 car over a full day again. We did some race runs that allowed us to check our pace with the tyre degradation and we definitely gathered valuable information. At the end of the day, we also did some performance runs. Unfortunately, one got interrupted by a red flag and the other one by traffic.
The plan now is to go back to Maranello for some simulator work, help the engineers there before taking a holiday break after a long season, so as to return fresh next year, which I’m really looking forward to..”

Vesti: “It was a really special day for me. I got to push the W14 to its limits and experiencing the car both on high and low fuel at the end of the day. The team has been incredible. I was also able to learn from George, looking through the data and having him next to me in the garage. I improved consistently through the day and it was great working with the engineers to help me do that. I’m excited to get back to Brackley now and continue my learning in the simulator and the correlation to this test; that will be very interesting. Thank you to the team for giving me more track time in the car and I hope to get some more opportunities next year.”

Russell: “Despite the crash, it was still a productive half-a-day in the car. There was still lots we were able to learn. There was plenty we were able to assess and correlate from the season just gone. It’s been a long year, and everyone is tired. We’re all now looking forward to a bit of time off but equally, excited for next season.”

Here’s what Alfa Romeo duo said:

Here’s photos from F1 Testing:

Here’s how F1 Abu Dhabi Test panned out