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F1's Abu Dhabi post-season test: Who is driving and more

Formula 1 has stayed in Abu Dhabi for this week’s post-season test which gives young drivers a chance and an opportunity to learn more about Pirelli tyres.

Jack Doohan, Alpine A523

Jack Doohan, Alpine A523

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The 2023 F1 season has drawn to a close after Max Verstappen capped off a championship-winning year with victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - but has the 2023 season actually finished? 

Teams and drivers have not packed up just yet, as they are staying in Abu Dhabi for this week’s post-season test at Yas Marina Circuit. 

It will take place on Tuesday 28 November and gives teams the opportunity for one last shakedown of their cars before they get stored away. 

But as these cars are not being used again, what is the purpose behind the post-season test and who is driving? Here is everything to know. 

What is F1’s Abu Dhabi post-season test? 

F1’s post-season test is the last bit of track action for the year which takes place just two days after the Abu Dhabi GP season finale. It runs across the day with morning and afternoon sessions as teams try to extract every last bit of knowledge that they can get from the car. 

Yet not all 20 F1 drivers have to partake. Teams must designate one of its cars to a young driver who has no more than two grand prix starts - similar to the FP1 rules. And this has therefore seen many F2 drivers, or those who are about to graduate to F1, previously take part in the test. 

In 2022 Oscar Piastri tested for McLaren ahead of his rookie season, while Liam Lawson (Red Bull), Robert Shwartzman (Ferrari), Frederik Vesti (Mercedes), Jack Doohan (Alpine), Theo Pourchaire (Alfa Romeo), Felipe Drugovich (Aston Martin), Pietro Fittipaldi (Haas), Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri) and Logan Sargeant (Williams) all drove the test as well. 

Robert Shwartzman, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Robert Shwartzman, Ferrari SF-23

The other car is for drivers with a valid superlicence and is designated for Pirelli tyre testing, so that F1 can learn more about the different compounds and how to improve for the following season. 

Ferrari scored a 1-2-3 in 2022, as Sainz, Leclerc and Shwartzman took the top three spots (Sainz and Leclerc sharing the car) while Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen completed the top five. As seen with Ferrari, some teams opt to run both drivers (one in the morning and the other in the afternoon) alongside a rookie but not everybody does that as the Scuderia, Mercedes, Red Bull and Aston Martin were the only ones to do so in 2022. So Alfa Romeo, for example, ran Valtteri Bottas alongside Pourchaire which meant Zhou Guanyu missed the test. 

Nonetheless, it is pretty much a normal testing session as teams run different programmes, try new things and extract as much feedback from the drivers as possible. The only difference being is who drives one of the cars. 

Why does F1’s Abu Dhabi post-season test matter? 

Although grands prix for the year are done, everybody knows where they finished and the different F1 cars will not be used again, the post-season test still brings importance. 

It is mainly for the drivers who are set to join a new team. For example in 2022, Fernando Alonso drove for Alpine in the season finale but was in Aston Martin colours for the post-season test just two days later as was the case for many others switching allegiance. 

The test gives an important opportunity for newcomers to gain some understanding of their new team, whether it’s the car, staff members or how everything operates. It is also the chance for drivers to complete a seat fitting with their new outfit before taking to the circuit. 

Isack Hadjar, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Isack Hadjar, Red Bull Racing RB19

Once on the track, the post-season test gives newcomers early impressions of how the car works which is therefore important feedback for the team, because they can then make changes to suit its new driver. 

Even though it is at the end of a season, every bit of track time counts. It’s important to consider though pre-season testing only lasts a few days, so those switching teams already have limited time to get used to their new car meaning the Abu Dhabi post-season test provides another opportunity to get up to speed. 

However, the driver market has been very stable as every team is keeping its line-up for 2024.

Yet this year’s test is still important. Teams will be testing the Pirelli tyres for important information, while it’s a great opportunity for young drivers. It gives them more opportunities to test an F1 car and show their respective teams what they can offer. 

Who is driving in F1’s 2023 Abu Dhabi post-season test? 

Teams will be running many young drivers that have already featured for them in certain FP1 sessions across 2023. McLaren, for example, had IndyCar’s Pato O’Ward in their car for first practice at Yas Marina Circuit and he will be driving for the team again in the post-season test. 

There is also Oliver Bearman, who will have an outing in the post-season test after driving for Haas in FP1 in Mexico and Abu Dhabi. However, he will be driving alongside Haas’ long-term reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi instead of Nico Hulkenberg or Kevin Magnussen

Meanwhile, Williams and AlphaTauri are giving out F1 debuts. Honda protégé Ayumu Iwasa will have his first taste of F1 machinery with AlphaTauri ahead of his move to Super Formula in Japan next year, after finishing fourth in the 2023 F2 championship. 

Pato O'Ward, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Pato O'Ward, McLaren MCL60

Then there is Franco Colapinto, who came fourth in the 2023 F3 standings. He will be testing for Williams at Yas Marina Circuit in his first F1 outing just days after making his F2 debut, where Colapinto finished 19th in the sprint race but retired from the feature race in Abu Dhabi. He will share driving duties with Zak O'Sullivan.

Team Pirelli Tyre test allocation Young driver allocation
Alfa Romeo Zhou Guanyu Theo Pourchaire
AlphaTauri Daniel Ricciardo/Yuki Tsunoda Ayumu Iwasa
Alpine Esteban Ocon Jack Doohan
Aston Martin Fernando Alonso/Lance Stroll Felipe Drugovich
Ferrari Carlos Sainz/Charles Leclerc Robert Shwartzman
Haas Pietro Fittipaldi Oliver Bearman
McLaren Oscar Piastri Pato O'Ward
Mercedes George Russell Frederik Vesti
Red Bull Sergio Perez Jake Dennis
Williams Alex Albon/Logan Sargeant Franco Colapinto/Zak O'Sullivan

Can I watch F1’s 2023 Abu Dhabi post-season test? 

F1’s Abu Dhabi post-season test will not be live televised, so the best way to follow the action is via Autosport for updates of the action as teams and drivers conclude the 2023 season. 

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