What the teams said – Friday at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix


Ferrari

Shwartzman was given the job of gathering aero data early on, running large aero rakes as Ferrari keep an eye on any opportunity to assess parts with 2024 in mind. Sainz had a steady session in the twin Ferrari, although he earned the wrath of Piastri after being found dawdling on the racing line. But it went from bad to worse for the Spaniard, as he spun into the barriers early on in FP2, bringing out the red flags and causing considerable damage to his Ferrari. It was a costly error, as he has lost nearly all the running possible in the only representative session, while Leclerc demonstrated what was possible for the Scuderia by nailing his flying lap to go P1.

Charles Leclerc – FP2: 1:24.809, P1

“It was a tricky day. We only completed two laps on the short run and not many overall, but the feeling in the car was pretty good so far. The fight is on with Mercedes and they look competitive, so it won’t be easy. We will do everything we can to qualify in front of them tomorrow.”

Carlos Sainz – FP1: 1:26.676, P7; FP2: 1:26.707, P19

“It’s obviously not been the Friday I wanted here in Abu Dhabi. We played a bit with the set up in FP1 and I was looking forward to FP2 after making some changes to the car. Unfortunately, I went over the big bump at the entry to turn 3 and I lost the car over it, bottoming out and hitting the barriers. It was a costly mistake and I’m sorry for the mechanics for giving them extra work today. I’m sure tomorrow we will be back on track and ready to go. It looks like the field is going to be tight so we can expect an interesting Qualifying.”

Robert Shwartzman – FP1: 1:26.703, P8

“Quite a positive day on my side, as everything went smoothly and I’m generally very happy. We completed the programme we had planned and in terms of lap time I was close to Carlos who was my reference today. In terms of feeling, we had to manage the rear tyres quite a bit and the car was stiff in general, so it was a good challenge.

“A big thanks to the team and everyone who gave me the opportunity to drive today. It’s always amazing to drive a Formula 1 car, especially a Ferrari. I’ll be back in the car on Tuesday for an entire day of testing and I’m really looking forward to it.”

McLaren

Fresh from the announcement that he would be McLaren’s reserve driver next year, O’Ward took part in FP1 and had a clean session, as did Piastri. When Norris did get out on track, he looked quick, hooking up a hot lap and winding up fractions behind Leclerc. That bodes well for qualifying – but what of their race pace? Like most of the field they will have very little representative data to draw on going into Sunday’s Grand Prix.

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Lando Norris – FP1: 1:24.852, P2

“It was a messy day on track with the Red and Yellow Flags, but I think we made the most of the time we had today. We got some good laps in. I got comfortable quickly in FP2, which I was happy with. Obviously, I didn’t get a high-fuel or consistent running in my session, so maybe I’m a little bit behind on some areas but we can look at those in the data tonight. Overall, I’m confident I can find it for a positive session in qualifying.”

Oscar Piastri – FP1: 1:26.665, P6; FP2: 1:25.361, P10

“It felt good out there, the car’s looking competitive which is a pleasing start to the weekend. There were a few mistakes to tidy-up but overall, I feel like we’re in a competitive place. We’ll work hard with the data and see what we can do tomorrow on track.”

Pato O’Ward – FP1: 1:27.114, P15

“After FP1 I was just wishing I could be in the car for FP2! It was a smooth session. We were able to work through our run plan and complete all the laps we intended. I think from my side, there’s still quite a lot of lap time to come from me, so I’m very excited to be back in the car on Tuesday for the test, where I hope to get to know the car better and keep on improving. Until then, I’ll be trying to help the team have a good Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“Overall, it’s been a productive day, even if the sessions have been largely affected by Red Flags, and so the time available has been significantly restricted. However, we were able to look at the behaviour of the tyres, and we have good data to analyse in order to maximise the performance of the car. So far it looks like we are more competitive than we were in Las Vegas, but the field looks once again very compressed.

“I would also like to say ‘well done’ to Pato who ran a solid free practice 1 session for us today. He worked through his performance run, consecutive laps and procedures with no issues at all, and we are very happy with the work he completed ahead of Lando returning to the car this evening.”

Red Bull

Red Bull ran not one but two rookies in FP1, with both giving a good account of themselves as Dennis just beat Hadjar. The Frenchman had a small moment late on, taking avoiding action after coming across a slower Aston Martin. The Bulls were also in the thick of the action in FP2, with Verstappen opting to overtake a couple of cars in the pit lane as he seemed keen to get on with the job at hand, before complaining about his car bouncing around like a kangaroo. Perez didn’t quite nail his flying run after picking up traffic, so there is more to come from him.

READ MORE: ‘We have a lot to figure out’ – Verstappen left searching for answers after Friday practice in Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen – FP2: 1:24.982, P3

“We had limited track time in FP2 so we weren’t able to learn as much as we wanted to. I didn’t expect the balance to be so far off, there was a lot of understeer and jumping. There’s a lot to figure out in tomorrow’s practice session. Of course, we’re still P3 so it’s not too bad, I just think balance wise it could be much better. We need to make some big improvements to be good in qualifying tomorrow.”

Sergio Perez – FP2: 1:25.112, P5

“We had to do some tweaks to the car towards the start of the session, I was struggling a bit with some front end initially. Due to the red flags, we hardly got any running, especially on the medium and then on my soft run I had traffic with people doing high fuel runs towards the end of the session. It wasn’t a very straightforward day, obviously I didn’t run in FP1 so you lose that and it means we have to be very careful on what route we take with set-up. I think we have some good potential in the car though, we just have to do some tweaks here and there, then we should be in a good place for tomorrow.”

Isack Hadjar – FP1: 1:27.244, P17

“Today was a really good day! It was really busy driving in F1 and F2 in the same day but it was a really good experience, it’s a big step up from F2 to F1. Driving the fastest car in the world was great, it was out of this world, especially in these conditions on track.”

Jake Dennis – FP1: 1:27.208, P16

“What an incredible experience, I can only thank Red Bull Racing for the opportunity to drive this car. It is immaculate to drive and these moments don’t come around very often in your career. To finally tick driving in FP1 off the bucket list is pretty special. It is so different from what I am used to, the first run was mind blowing, how quick these cars are and how much downforce and braking capacity they have. It was just a cool day in the office and I exited the car with a big smile on my face. I do a lot of work on the simulator for the Team so it’s good to correlate as much as possible back to the simulator in the factory and it is quite impressive how close it is. I had that fear factor, which you obviously don’t have on the sim and the G forces. It was a bit of a challenge, but I have given the car back to Max in one piece!”

Mercedes

Vesti drove in place of Hamilton in FP1 and kept his session neat and tidy. As did Russell, who was quickest on both the soft and medium tyres. But Mercedes fell down the order slightly in the heavily disrupted FP2 session. They chose to concentrate as much as possible on longer runs on the mediums tyres, with the suspicion that they were still carrying heavier fuel when they bolted to softs on to set a late flying lap.

Lewis Hamilton – FP2: 1:25.315, P8

“FP2 was a very frustrating session for me, and I suspect for all the drivers out there. We got very little running in the end, and a lack of consecutive laps too, which is what we most want to achieve on a Friday. On the laps we did do, the car felt OK. The grip felt good and there are a few things we will look at overnight to see what we can improve. It was a shame we didn’t get more running, but we will look to make up for that in FP3 tomorrow.”

George Russell – FP1: 1:26.072, P1; FP2: 1:25.122, P6

“That was a relatively positive Friday for us. There were a lot of rookie drivers out there on track in FP1, so we didn’t get a completely clear gauge of where our relative pace was. Fred did a good job for the team though, and we got a lot of useful data to look over. FP2 was clearly an interrupted session so again, we couldn’t get a read on where we were stacking up against our competitors or a true picture of where our pace may be. Nevertheless, we have a lot to review overnight and that will hopefully put us in a good place to finish the last race of the season on a high. I’m excited going into tomorrow.”

Frederik Vesti – FP1: 1:26.815, P12

“Taking part in my second FP1 was an incredible experience. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time, especially as it was on a track that I know well. I was really pleased with how the session went and I was progressing well throughout the hour. I was much more confident with the car than in Mexico given the knowledge I had gained from that FP1. There are always things you can improve and there was more potential out there. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car on Tuesday for the test and carrying on that development. Once again, a big thank you to Toto and the team for giving me the opportunity and supporting me.”

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

“Fred did a great job for us in FP1. We were able to get some useful work done on his car, which will be helpful as we prepare for qualifying and the race. We’re looking forward to having him back in the car for the test on Tuesday. George had a clean FP1. We were missing a lot of the reference cars, so we weren’t reading too much into the timesheets. We were able to get a read on high and low fuel balance and made some changes going into the evening session.

“The second session was badly compromised by the red flags. That was clearly felt most by all those drivers who sat out FP1, and Lewis was understandably frustrated not to be able to get more laps in. We still managed to get a bit of a read on the long run in the cool conditions, and the soft single-lap pace. There is plenty to do overnight, but at least we have an idea of where we need to improve the car.”

Aston Martin

Drugovich gave a very good account of himself in first practice, beating his team mate on merit and winding up an impressive second. Stroll wasn’t too far back in fifth, although he did earn the ire of Hadjar late on by pottering on the racing line – something his team were fined for. In FP2, neither driver managed too much running and thus their true pace here remains something of a mystery. They did keep their session clean though, which will be a relief to the team.

HIGHLIGHTS: Russell leads impressive Drugovich and Ricciardo in Abu Dhabi FP1

Fernando Alonso – FP2: 1:25.397, P11

“I didn’t learn much from FP2. We were unlucky with the pair of red flags and there wasn’t much action. It’s important to get some practice in and FP2 is the only practice session with conditions that represent Qualifying and the race, so we have some work to do, but it’s the same for everybody.

“We will try everything to end the season positively. Anything can happen, as we saw in the last two events. We will fight until the last lap and see what we can do.”

Lance Stroll – FP1: 1:26.631, P5; FP2: 1:25.492, P13

“Despite the two red flags in FP2 we still had some good running today. I got a good feel for the car ahead of tomorrow and I’m pleased with the data we’ve collected today. Qualifying is important here, and the goal has to be to get into Q3. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s race and we’ll be pushing hard to end the season on a high.”

Felipe Drugovich – FP1: 1:26.360, P2

“P2 in my second FP1 session of the year feels good! I really enjoyed it out there. The start of the session was primarily focused on some aerodynamic testing and so I had a rake attached to the car. That meant putting in some steady and consistent laps to make sure we were collecting the data we need to optimise the set-up for the upcoming sessions. After that, I was given some Soft tyres and allowed to push, which is always the best bit.

“The car felt quick – we’ve made progress since Monza – and I think we’re starting the weekend off in a good place. Now I’m looking forward to supporting the team this weekend and then getting back out on track on Tuesday for the end-of-season young driver test. Having a full day of running is always beneficial to get into a good rhythm and to find the limits of the car.”

Alpine

Doohan had the biggest moment of FP1, finding a slow-moving Sargeant going through the final corner, and being forced to swerve wide. The stewards had a look at that and found the Williams man at fault. Apart from that, it was a straightforward day for the French outfit. Ocon recovered from feeling unwell yesterday to take part, looking none the worse for wear but winding up a few places behind his team mate, who have the benefit of two practice sessions to feel at home at this technical track.

Esteban Ocon – FP2: 1:25.566, P14

“The last Friday Practice day of the year has not started on the best terms. Unfortunately, I’ve been quite ill since Wednesday and was not feeling great coming into the paddock today. We had Jack [Doohan] in the car for Free Practice 1 where he tested various different items. He had a good session and then followed that up with pole position in Formula 2 just after so well done to him! Free Practice 2 was disrupted with two red flags and therefore a very limited number of laps. We did the best we could with our programme and I am already looking forward to having more laps in the bag tomorrow to be as ready as possible for the last Qualifying of the year. There is more to come from us.”

Pierre Gasly – FP1: 1:26.720, P9; FP2: 1:25.321, P9

“We started our Abu Dhabi weekend here at Yas Marina with an interesting day’s Practice where running was shortened due to the two red flags in Free Practice 2. Firstly, I’m glad Carlos [Sainz] is OK as it looked like a big impact. From our side, with the running we were able to do, we’ve had a fairly standard day in the car. I think we’re in a good position and now it’s important we take the time and do our work overnight to find some improvements ahead of Qualifying. I’m feeling comfortable and we will see what tomorrow brings.”

Julian Rouse, Interim Sporting Director

“It’s been a busy day here at Yas Marina where we had Reserve Driver Jack Doohan in the car for the second mandatory rookie practice outing of the season. He did a solid job in the session and then had to adapt quickly back into Formula 2 where he took a very good pole position. On that front, it was great to have an Alpine Academy 1-2-3 with Victor [Martins] and Kush [Maini] in the top three. After missing FP1 and then with the two red flags in FP2, it means Esteban is slightly on the backfoot in terms of track time. Despite feeling unwell he did a good job to be on the pace right away in FP2. Pierre had two good sessions and we will work hard overnight to analyse the data and aim to put ourselves in a good place with both cars ahead of Qualifying tomorrow afternoon.”

Alfa Romeo

Pourchaire combined F2 duties with another FP1 appearance, and looked in good form for the team as he gathered longer run data on the hard compound tyre. Bottas also ran that compound in FP2, the only team to sample the C3 rubber on Friday. On the softs, both Bottas and Zhou looked quick – but they did opt for very light fuel for their qualifying simulations, and could well fall back tomorrow when the pecking order is revealed.

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Valtteri Bottas – FP1: 1:26.453, P4; FP2: 1:25.024, P4

“It is definitely quite nice to finish both sessions in P4, although it’s quite difficult to say where we really stand at the end of today. We had a couple of unusual sessions today: the first one featuring several rookie drivers, and the second one affected by two red flags in a row – therefore not allowing everyone to get good laps in. Still, we went through the full programme for the day, and the feeling in the car is pretty good, which is promising for the days ahead. Of course, there is still a long way to go, and we need to be at our best for Qualifying and for Sunday’s race as well. Our target for Saturday remains Q3, and if we do our homework right overnight, we have a solid chance of achieving that tomorrow.”

Zhou Guanyu – FP2: 1:25.223, P7

“It’s been a good day, I am glad I was able to get up to speed right away, despite the red flags that disrupted FP2. We had good rhythm out of the box and I felt comfortable with the balance, so it was a smooth day for me. Effectively, we had 18 laps at full push, but the car felt in the right place and that’s the start of the weekend we needed. It’s good to see we were able to gain confidence right away, and that the upgrades we brought seem to be working well. It’s only Friday, but we are in the right window: still, we will need to improve tonight if we want to stay competitive, because everyone else will.”

Theo Pourchaire – FP1: 1:27.093, P14

“Driving this car is always an incredible feeling, and I’m grateful to the team for the trust they put in me, and for the opportunity they gave me to contribute to our work today. I was really looking forward to driving, especially after missing out in Mexico, and I am pleased by the productive session we had. The track was quite green and there wasn’t much grip, but I felt better with every lap and I feel we had a good progression from Hard to Soft compounds. I am happy I was able to help the team in the session, and I’m looking forward to getting back in the car in the post-season test, especially to experience the difference in grip levels after the full race weekend.”

AlphaTauri

AlphaTauri were the only team to run both their drivers in FP1, Ricciardo coming home third and Tsunoda slightly further back. Both fell down the order in FP2, although in such a disrupted session, it is hard to peg exactly where they might end up tomorrow. They are one of only a couple of teams with new parts here, as they continue to try and hunt down Williams in the fight for seventh in the championship.

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Daniel Ricciardo – FP1: 1:26.433, P3; FP2: 1:25.467, P12

“I think it was a solid day. I definitely felt the positives from the upgrades immediately in FP1, and we could see the benefits from it. We made some changes for FP2, trying to exploit it and get the best all-round package. It was a slightly disrupted session, so we were a little compromised with our programme, but I’m sure others were too. Looking at us, I’m confident we can find even more performance, so I’m not too concerned about our positions in FP2. We did look like we had a decent pace on the medium tyres, so I think we’ll be a top-ten car if we get it right.”

Yuki Tsunoda – FP1: 1:26.725, P10; FP2: 1:26.413, P15

“Overall, today was a positive day. We collected a lot of data about the upgrades we brought here and learnt a lot of things. I feel a clear difference and we’ve definitely made a positive step in performance. There are still a couple of things to do and finetune to put it all together, but I already noticed the steps we made between FP1 and FP2. This will hopefully let us fight in Q3 tomorrow, and I think it’s possible. We’ll use this opportunity and maximise it.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“With the continuous development of the AT04 and to help gather useful information for next year, we brought a few updates to the season finale here in Abu Dhabi. The focus of FP1 was to evaluate that these were working as expected and then start to understand how to balance around them. With 10 rookie drivers in other cars in FP1, it wasn’t as straightforward to know where everyone was in terms of performance, but the signs were promising for us because, from the data, our updates appeared to be working as expected. Running was very limited in FP2 because of the multiple Red Flags. We managed to get the short-run data on the medium and soft compound tyres but not the usual long-run tyre information across the two cars. This will make the tyre choice for Sunday’s race a little bit more difficult than usual. A positive factor is that this is a track where we test, so we still have good data from last year to help our choice. With the way the weekend has panned out, the final classification in FP2 doesn’t exactly represent where we expect to be in qualifying tomorrow, but we have enough data to understand the limitations and to work on changes to the setup overnight.”

Williams

O’Sullivan had his first go behind the wheel of the FW45 and did well in FP1, in some ways better than Sargeant who had to explain himself to the stewards after being another driver to baulk a competitor on a flying lap approaching behind. He received a reprimand for that, with the team fined for not giving him enough warning. In FP2 the team opted to concentrate on longer runs, feeling that qualifying is far less important to them than performance on Sunday.

Logan Sargeant – FP1: 1:26.742, P11; FP2: 1:26.659, P18

“Most importantly from today, we have a car that seems okay on high fuel but is quicker than where we are on low fuel, so we need to try close this gap tomorrow in FP3. The car feels like we’re in a good place and I feel good, so I’m looking forward to getting some more runs in tomorrow ahead of qualifying. AlphaTauri seem to have strong pace in low and high fuel but hopefully our pace is good enough to challenge our competition ahead of the weekend.”

Alex Albon – FP2: 1:26.081, P16

“I feel a little bit on the backfoot this weekend but I’m obviously not alone in that, with a group of drivers all in the same situation after sitting out of FP1 and the disrupted FP2 session. Realistically, the long run pace is okay and we’re feeling up to speed with this, however the setup direction is also not easy, so we’ll have to look at Logan’s side of the garage to see what they’ve learnt from today. I feel confident in ourselves when it comes to the fight for seventh, so we’ll just focus on our own race and see how we go.”

Zak O’Sullivan – FP1: 1:27.460, P18

“First and foremost, I really enjoyed today. It was my first time in Abu Dhabi and first time driving a Williams Racing F1 car. I made quite good progress throughout the session, getting on top of the car and the different procedures. Thank you to Williams Racing for giving me the opportunity. I can’t wait for the Young Driver Test on Tuesday, to refine some of the things I’ve learnt from FP1 and make some more progress.”

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

“Just when we wanted a quiet, easy FP2, we got two red flags in quick succession. This led to compromised run plans throughout the pitlane and cost several drivers – Alex included – valuable track time having given up FP1. Notwithstanding the compromised evening session, there were still positives to take from the day. Zak drove very well, completed 28 valuable laps and helped us collect some very useful data. We got some of the high fuel work completed in FP1 and FP2, which has given us a good indication of how the tyre behaviour will be on Sunday.

“It is clear what we need to do this weekend and, whilst two of our main rivals have brought significant upgrades to the final race, we have been able to spend our time refining the performance of the FW45 and give ourselves a good base from which to attack the rest of the weekend. It won’t be easy to hold seventh place in the championship, but we will be working hard and have made progress in preparing FW45 for the fight.”

Haas

Bearman and Magnussen concentrated mostly on longer runs in FP1, with Haas trying to get a better understanding of their tyre degradation here. But they suffered a sizable setback in the second session, when Hulkenberg spun into the barriers on his first push lap on the softs. That ended the German’s involvement, damage visible to see at the rear of his car and the team left with a decent rebuild overnight. It also leaves Hulkenberg very short of laps, having sat out the opening session. As for Magnussen, he wound up down the order at a track he doesn’t especially think will suit the VF-23.

Nico Hulkenberg – FP2: 1:27.147, P20

“It was a mistake on my side – driver error – I just wanted a bit too much, too soon. I lost the car, it wasn’t a big impact, but it ended my session, so it’s been a very short day in general with only one lap on the board as I didn’t drive FP1 either. FP3 is in the daytime with much hotter track temperatures, so it’s not really representative and not great in terms of learning for the car, but it will be useful for me to feel comfortable in the car.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:27.462, P19; FP2: 1:26.413, P17

“In FP2 we didn’t get a lap on the soft tyre, so prior to the red flag I was P4, so not too bad. It’s hard to tell where we truly stack up until tomorrow, so we’ll see. We didn’t learn anything on the soft tire since we didn’t run it, so we chose to go out for a longer run on the medium compound whereas others went out on a short run on softs, so at least we got more laps than others on the mediums.”

Oliver Bearman – FP1: 1:27.569, P20

“I’m really happy to have completed another FP1 and rack up more miles in a Formula 1 car, I’ll never complain about that. It was a positive session, I built up step-by-step, the car felt good underneath me and we completed the program – that’s what I’m here to do. I think the team are happy, but I couldn’t debrief with them as I had to go back to Formula 2 afterwards, so that’s what I’m doing this evening.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“In FP1 we went through our test program and Oliver did a good job like he did in Mexico, it was a very solid, very stable drive. FP2 was a little bit of a disrupted session with two red flags, one caused by us with Nico being a bit too optimistic going into Turn 1 on new soft tyres. This meant Kevin couldn’t put a lap in on his new softs and therefore we chose to put him on a long run. There’s still a lot to do for tomorrow before we can be ready for the race. As usual, over one lap I don’t think we’re too far off, but on the long runs, we’ll struggle.”

Pirelli

Simone Berra, Chief Engineer

“Today’s sessions left many questions unanswered, at least in terms of the tyres. Despite this weekend running to the “classic” format, the first session was rather unusual, given that half the cars on track were entrusted to the young drivers, who by the very nature of their role, would have run to a slightly different programme to that which their regular race drivers would have undertaken. The second session, starting as the sun began to set with temperatures that were therefore dropping to ten degrees lower than in the first one, was twice interrupted, making it even more complicated to draw any conclusions relating to tyre behaviour. The numbers sum it up, with a total of 318 laps covered in FP2 today, compared to 543 last year.

“Given the choices made by the teams, the Hard, which was used by just one team, would seem to be the clear favourite for the race. From what we have seen, there was a bit of graining, but the track is rubbering-in quite quickly so this situation could improve. The many laps completed on the Soft and Medium have at least allowed us to establish the gap between these two compounds at around half a second.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the FP2 action as Leclerc sets the pace amid two red flags in Abu Dhabi



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