After a season of struggles, Robert Shwartzman put Haas on top of the timesheet on the final day of Abu Dhabi testing to sign them off on a high.
Shwartzman, the only driver on track on Wednesday using the traditional 13-inch tyres, and 2021 machinery, put Haas in a rare position at the top of the leaderboard with a 1:25.348, giving him the eighth fastest time overall across the two days.
Lando Norris was the fastest of the ‘mule’ car runners, clocking a best time that was within half a second of Shwartzman in a test where nine of the 10 teams were represented – Williams did not have a ‘mule’ car and were absent from Yas Marina Circuit on Wednesday.
Sebastian Vettel brought out the red flags after suffering a hydraulic failure in what was otherwise a relatively smooth day of action.
After a dual testing day on Tuesday which saw the 18-inch tyre and Young Driver tests combined, Wednesday was almost full focus on Pirelli’s 18-inch compounds for next season as the Italian manufacturer dropped the pressure on the front tyres following understeer complaints the previous day.
There was one exception, that being Ferrari junior Shwartzman, who took part for Haas to complete their Young Driver Test opportunity, having appeared for Ferrari on Tuesday in the same capacity.
It was McLaren who were first to light up the track, not due to lap times but thanks to their fancy LED wheel cover lights fitted to the rear wheels on Norris’ ‘mule’ car.
After one flying lap it was back to the pits for the Briton, who ended the day in P2, but with wheel covers returning to the tyres from 2022 it may not be the last we see of such pieces of engineering.
Vettel brought a delay to proceedings early on as his Aston Martin ‘mule’ car, fitted with the 18-inch tyres, pulled up with a hydraulic failure, triggering the red flags.
It did not hold him back too much though as he ended the day third fastest in front of George Russell, who was contesting his second day on Pirelli duties for Mercedes ahead of his promotion next season when he will become team-mates with Lewis Hamilton.
The true story of the day though was Shwartzman who, with 30 minutes remaining, put the Haas top of the timings.
While the current car and smaller tyres helped, it was still a welcome boost for Haas having finished the season without a single point and rarely able to challenge beyond the back row of the grid.
He held on to that P1 until the end, which meant Haas ended the year on top as they spend the winter searching for points-scoring pace next time around.
Ultimately, Haas top-and-tailed the standings with Pietro Fittipaldi slowest on the leaderboard in the VF19 ‘mule’.
The C3 and C4 compounds were the focus of the day with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz clocking up 151 laps, the highest total of the day.
Just one shy was Guanyu Zhou, the Chinese racer in action for the first time with Alfa Romeo ahead of his official debut on the F1 grid with the Swiss-based team next season.
Motorsport.com reported the final estimates showed a time deficit of around 1.5 seconds between the 18-inch and 13-inch compounds, a “very encouraging” figure for Pirelli.
Full day two standings from Abu Dhabi
1. Robert Shwartzman, Haas, 1:25.348 (130 laps)
2. Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M mule, 1:25.809 (103)
3. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21 mule, 1:26.379 (134)
4. George Russell, Mercedes W10 mule, 1:26.404 (82)
5. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT01 mule, 1:26.451 (149)
6. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF90 mule, 1:26.706 (151)
7. Fernando Alonso, Alpine RS18 mule, 1:26.940 (148)
8. Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo C39 mule, 1:27.850 (150)
9. Sergio Perez, Red Bull RB15 mule, 1:27.991 (118)
10. Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas VF19 mule, 1:28.662 (123)
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