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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Vandoorne gets first Aston Martin F1 run in wet Pirelli Spa test

Aston Martin reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne made his track debut with the Silverstone team in a Pirelli Formula 1 tyre test at a soaking wet Spa on Wednesday.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Aston Martin

It was the Belgian’s first running in an F1 car since he tested for Mercedes in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2021.

The two-day session, which was also attended by McLaren, featured rainy conditions throughout and only wet and intermediate tyres were used.

The poor weather meant that Pirelli didn’t conduct any running with its no-blanket slick tyres, which won’t be used in 2024 following a recent F1 Commission decision, and which may never be raced at all if Pirelli loses the F1 tyre supply deal to Bridgestone in 2025.

As such, the wet running was arguably more useful to Pirelli as it rarely gets the chance to test in such conditions at a current race venue, rather than an artificially soaked Paul Ricard or Fiorano.

Aston’s Lance Stroll completed 70 laps on Tuesday and posted a best time of 1m57.697s, while Oscar Piastri logged 47 laps in his McLaren and recorded a best of 2m00.682s.

On Wednesday, and with heavier rain in the first part of the day, Aston again topped the mileage and times with Vandoorne running 53 laps with a best effort of 1m57.631s, and Lando Norris recording a 2m00.628s over the course of his 40 laps.

Despite the lack of dry running for Vandoorne, the test was a valuable opportunity to get a feel for the AMR23 in case he is needed to step in as reserve at any point, while it also helped him to correlate with his simulator running.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Aston Martin

Stoffel Vandoorne, Aston Martin

Photo by: Aston Martin

“It was great to be back in an F1 car today driving the AMR23,” he said. “It’s been a while and it was also my first time driving in green with Aston Martin.

“To do it at Spa was also very special, for obvious reasons, despite the wet weather. We ran on wet tyres in the morning and then as conditions improved into the afternoon we ran through the programme on the intermediate tyres. The car felt good even in these wet conditions, and I enjoyed every lap.”

Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola confirmed that the wet mileage, while not the original purpose of the Spa test when it was booked, was “very useful” for the Italian company.

"Just as was the case over the Belgian GP weekend, there was no respite from the rain during these two days of testing at Spa,” he said.

“Consequently, we had to limit ourselves to development work on the intermediate and extreme wet tyres, on asphalt that changed a lot according to the amount of surface water.

“Despite the difficulties, we managed to cover almost 1500kms with Aston Martin and McLaren. It was a very useful session, which allowed us to collect important data as we plan our testing programme between now and the end of the year, the focus of which has obviously changed following the decisions taken at the recent F1 Commission meeting.”

The next Pirelli tyre test is scheduled for Monza in the week after the Italian Grand Prix in September.

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