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Testing Round-Up: What Happened in Abu Dhabi

Dramatic day sees team complete 164 laps but not without incident; Fred third fastest

The traditional end-of-season test brings the curtain down on 2023. It's one last opportunity for teams to gather running data and give valuable on-track experience to young drivers.

Behind-the-wheel for the team at Yas Marina was George Russell and Junior Driver Fred Vesti. For Fred, it was a third outing in F1 machinery of the year having starred in FP1 in both Mexico City and last Friday in Abu Dhabi.

Fred went through a full programme, clocking an impressive 106 laps, and focusing his work on the C4 Medium and C5 Soft tyre. He also got an opportunity to fit the Intermediates but only for an install lap, because of the limited number of slick tyre sets.

In the final 20 minutes of the day, he fitted the Soft tyre and recorded his best time of the day; a 1:24.679 good enough for third-fastest and less than three tenths behind P1.

Fred said: "It was a really special day for me.

"I got to push the W14 to its limits and experiencing the car both on high and low fuel at the end of the day.

"The team has been incredible. I was also able to learn from George, looking through the data and having him next to me in the garage.

"I improved consistently through the day and it was great working with the engineers to help me do that. I'm excited to get back to Brackley now and continue my learning in the simulator and the correlation to this test; that will be very interesting.

"Thank you to the team for giving me more track time in the car and I hope to get some more opportunities next year."

The test saw plenty of interruptions, with the start of running delayed by 25 minutes because of the late arrival of the medical helicopter.

The action was soon halted though as a water leak between Turns 13 and 14 caused a red flag, one of three throughout the day. The final stoppage was because of the Alpha Tauri of Iwasa catching fire, while the second red flag was down to a shunt for George.

Having completed 58 laps of running in the morning, George was continuing through his programme as lunch approached.

However, a car failure at Turn 6 forced him into the barriers and caused damage to the right-hand side of the car.

George was unhurt but the accident brought his day's running to an end while the team in the garage investigated the cause of the crash.

He said: "Despite the crash, it was still a productive half-a-day in the car.

"There was still lots we were able to learn. There was plenty we were able to assess and correlate from the season just gone.

"It's been a long year, and everyone is tired. We're all now looking forward to a bit of time off but equally, excited for next season."