While the season is now over, the F1 cars don’t stop running just yet, with a two-day end-of-season test set to take place at Yas Marina today and tomorrow.
While the teams are hard at work finalising their designs for the 2015 season – which opens with the Australian Grand Prix in 106 days’ time at Albert Park – this week’s final on-track hit-out will give teams the opportunity to bed in newly-signed drivers, evaluate up-and-coming pilots of the future, and (in McLaren’s case) welcome the dawn of a renewed marriage with Honda.
The McLaren-Honda combination will be the headline act over the next 48 hours at Yas Marina, marking the return of a partnership that netted both eight World Championship titles during their last partnership that ran between 1988-1992.
While an interim McLaren Honda – dubbed the MP4-29H – was given a tentative shakedown by Oliver Turvey a few weeks ago at Silverstone, this will mark the first proper on-track running of the Japanese marque’s 1.6-litre turbo hybrid power plant. McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will be given the honour over both days, with regular drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button sidelined while McLaren still decides (if its claims are still to be believed) who will partner Fernando Alonso when the Spaniard is expected to return to the team next year.
Championship runner-up Nico Rosberg will be looking to atone for his Sunday night heartache at losing out on the Drivers’ Championship title to teammate Lewis Hamilton. The German will drive the Mercedes F1W05 for one last time – no doubt hoping his power unit might actually last the distance this time! – before handing over to reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, who became the youngest DTM race winner earlier this season.
Red Bull Racing will similarly split its two days’ running between experience and youth. Daniel Ricciardo will take over the controls of the RB10 from Formula Renault 3.5 champion Carlos Sainz Jr, who will use this outing as one final audition for the role of Max Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull’s junior team, Scuderia Toro Rosso. Teenage sensation Verstappen will have both days behind the wheel of the STR9.
The drinks giant has also played a hand at Ferrari, successfully blocking four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel from having any time behind the wheel of Ferrari’s troubled F14T on his first few days in the Scuderia’s red colours. The Italian team – running under the leadership of brand new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene following the not unexpected sacking of Marco Mattiacci – will split its running between ongoing driver Kimi Räikkönen and GP2 Series race-winner Raffaele Marciello.
Fresh from claiming third place in the Constructors’ Championship standings – its best performance in over a decade – Williams will run Valtteri Bottas on Tuesday before, strangely, giving the controls to outgoing reserve driver Felipe Nasr. Evidently existing contractual obligations must be playing a part in keeping the Sauber-bound Brazilian behind the wheel, for there is no other sense to the decision whatsoever.
Nasr’s 2015 teammate Marcus Ericsson will be given the luxury of two days all to himself at the controls of Sauber’s maligned C33. How the Swedish rookie finds the characteristics of the Sauber – which delivered the team the worst season in its entire history – in comparison to the Caterham CT05 he piloted all season will certainly be interesting.
Lotus, meanwhile, has bucked the trend by not giving its regular drivers a run behind its twin-tusk E22, although such has been the recent performance of the car it would hardly be surprising if neither Pastor Maldonado nor Romain Grosjean ever wanted to see the car again. FIA European Formula 3 champion Esteban Ocon will pilot the car on Wednesday after reserve driver Charles Pic gets a run on Tuesday.
Force India is also fielding two drivers having one-off outings, and it wouldn’t be surprising if their appearance came with some rather nice cash injections to boot. GP2 Series champion Jolyon Palmer will drive the VJM07 on Day 1 before he hands over the controls to little-known (and equally unheralded) Australian racing driver Spike Goddard.
Despite barely scraping enough crowdfunding money to help it make a return to the Abu Dhabi racing grid last weekend, the administrator-run Caterham team will stay on, giving F1 debutant Will Stevens two more days at the wheel.
2014 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Test – Confirmed Line-up:
|Team / Entry||Tuesday||Wednesday||Laps|
|Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||Nico Rosberg||Pascal Wehrlein|
|Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||Carlos Sainz Jr||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||Valtteri Bottas||Felipe Nasr|
|Scuderia Ferrari F14T||Raffaele Marciello||Raffaele Marciello|
|Kimi Räikkönen||Kimi Räikkönen|
|McLaren Honda MP4-29H||Stoffel Vandoorne||Stoffel Vandoorne|
|Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||Jolyon Palmer||Spike Goddard|
|Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||Max Verstappen||Max Verstappen|
|Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||Charles Pic||Esteban Ocon|
|Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||Marcus Ericsson||Marcus Ericsson|
|Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||Will Stevens||Will Stevens|
Image via XPB Images