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De Vries tops first day of Abu Dhabi F1 test for Mercedes

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Formula E champion Nyck de Vries was quickest for Mercedes on the opening day of Formula 1’s post-season test in Abu Dhabi.

De Vries, who will continue to drive for Mercedes in FE in what is set to be its final season in the category in 2022, was briefly linked to the Williams ‘22 drive that eventually went to Alex Albon.

Dec 12 : Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review

The Dutch pace-setter, a former McLaren F1 junior, was among the 11 drivers called up for the ‘young driver test’ portion of the two-day post-season event, with those with two or fewer F1 grand prix starts allowed to run in 2021-spec F1 machinery and current tyres.

All teams made use of this, while every team apart from Williams is also running a ‘mule car’ adapted to the new 18-inch F1 tyres that will make their competitive F1 debut next year. These nine ‘mule cars’ will also run on Wednesday.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Abu Dhabi, Uae

De Vries ended the day on a 1m23.194s, a lap a second and a tenth off the one Max Verstappen had recorded to take pole for last weekend’s title decider.

Formula 2 drivers Liam Lawson (AlphaTauri, above) and Oscar Piastri (Alpine) made up the top three and were only 0.006s apart, albeit more than a second off the benchmark set by the Mercedes W12.

Lawson, a Red Bull junior and this year’s DTM runner-up, is expected to do a second season in F2 next year, whereas Piastri cannot return to F1’s maiden feeder series by virtue of being its reigning champion, and is therefore set to concentrate on his duties as Alpine’s reserve driver.

IndyCar’s Patricio O’Ward (below) was quickest heading into the lunch break, and would end the day fourth for McLaren, close behind Lawson and Piastri.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Abu Dhabi, Uae

Alfa Romeo’s 2022 F1 signing Guanyu Zhou, Red Bull junior Juri Vips and Aston Martin’s simulator driver Nick Yelloly completed a top seven made up entirely of the ‘young driver test’ participants. Vips’ barrier-stranded Red Bull was the culprit behind one of the day’s red flags.

Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren was the fastest of the ‘mule cars’, narrowly beating Lance Stroll’s Aston to the honour. Like Vips, Ricciardo also caused a red flag with a stoppage – as did Williams F1 junior Logan Sargeant (below).

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Abu Dhabi, Uae

F1’s newly-crowned champion Verstappen was just 17th for Red Bull, half a tenth up on Mercedes newcomer George Russell. Both logged well over 100 laps, but the mileage rankings for the day were led by Antonio Fuoco, who first drove a 2021 Ferrari and then a Ferrari 18-inch ‘mule car’.

Verstappen will hand the Red Bull ‘mule car’ over to Sergio Perez tomorrow, whereas Russell will remain in the Mercedes equivalent.

Session results

Pos. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Nyck de Vries Mercedes 1:23.194 77
2 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 1:24.517 1.323 125
3 Oscar Piastri Alpine 1:24.523 1.329 131
4 Patricio O’Ward McLaren 1:24.607 1.413 92
5 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo 1:25.142 1.948 119
6 Juri Vips Red Bull 1:25.198 2.004 97
7 Nick Yelloly Aston Martin 1:25.333 2.139 118
8 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren* 1:26.252 3.058 95
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin* 1:26.579 3.385 143
10 Robert Shwartzman Ferrari 1:26.694 3.500 73
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari* 1:26.989 3.795 87
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:27.183 3.989 127
13 Antonio Fuoco Ferrari** 1:27.324 4.130 146
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri* 1:27.348 4.154 131
15 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:27.476 4.282 92
16 Esteban Ocon Alpine* 1:27.553 4.359 128
17 Max Verstappen Red Bull* 1:28.013 4.819 124
18 George Russell Mercedes* 1:28.062 4.868 132
19 Mick Schumacher Haas* 1:28.499 5.305 100

* denotes ‘mule car’ running
** Antonio Fuoco ran in both the ‘mule car’ and the 2021 car

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