Russell tops Abu Dhabi Test times as Leclerc crashes

George Russell ended up on top of the lap times after the final day of post-season testing at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

The Englishman was, of course, driving for the Mercedes AMG F1 team in his role of test driver and not the Williams Racing outfit that he competes for as a race driver. A fastest effort of 1m31.204s saw Russell top the times from Charles Leclerc, but only after the Ferrari driver made a rare mistake late in the day, sliding backwards into the wall at Turn 14.

“This was our last day of track activity and I believe it was a very useful one for us, in spite of the incident that forced us to stop earlier than planned,” Leclerc is quoted by Autosport’s Scott Mitchell.

“We did a lot of tests to evaluate the 2020 tyres in comparison with this year’s tyres, and we have collected a lot of data that now needs to be analysed.”

Interestingly, Russell’s time was set using Pirelli’s 2020 C5 compound and was a tenth slower than Valtteri Bottas’ quickest day on Tuesday, which was set on the 2019 C4 soft compound. And, unsurprisingly, Russell was over three seconds slower behind the wheel of his Williams on Tuesday.

Third in the timesheets came SportPesa Racing Point driver Lance Stroll, ahead of Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz, all three drivers also running the same C5 compound as pace-setter Russell. Next came Esteban Ocon, who gained his first outing for his new Renault team on Tuesday and completed 128 laps of the circuit.

As well as evaluating tyre compounds for next season, the crucial Abu Dhabi Test was used by teams to evaluate new components and test aerodynamic efficiency using Aero Rakes with Kiel Probes attached.

Crucially, it’s also an opportunity for teams to evaluate young driver talent, Haas giving an outing to Pietro Fittipaldi, who was eighth quickest from the Williams duo of F2 driver Roy Nissany and new 2020 race team driver Nicholas Latifi.

Motorsport Technology