The 2021 Formula One season ended on Sunday with Max Verstappen taking victory in Abu Dhabi and with it the World Drivers’ Championship.
While the controversy from that race is still being discussed, Formula One teams took to the track again over the past few days to allow their young and not so young drivers the opportunity to gain some valuable track time.
With the technical regulations being changed for 2022, it was an opportunity for teams to create a ‘mule’ car, simply their 2021 car but with a few parts changed to allow them to use the new 18 inch tyres.
George Russell made his highly anticipated outing for Mercedes in their mule car in what would be his first time in the car since the same test in 2020. He has already raced for Mercedes in a Grand Prix, replacing the isolating Lewis Hamilton for the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Nyck de Vries also ran for the team in their 2021 car as part of the Young Driver Test, with the current Formula E World Champion setting the fastest time on the first day of testing.
Red Bull Racing ran World Champion Max Verstappen on the opening day of the test, setting the 17th fastest time of the session. On the second day of the test, it was Sergio Perez who took over the running of the mule car. Juri Vips drove the 2021 car for the team during the test.
Ferrari ran both Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuocco on the first day of the test, with Carlos Sainz taking over for Day 2. Robert Shwartzman was in charge of driving the 2021 Ferrari car before he made the switch to Haas for Day 2.
Zak Brown delivered on the promise he made Pato O’Ward by allowing him to test the 2021 car on the opening day of the test, with the Indycar driver impressing with the fourth-fastest time of the session.
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were also driving for the team in the test, with the Aussie driver driving on the first day.
Alpha Tauri had Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda driving the mule car, with Liam Lawson driving the 2021 car. Lawson set the second fastest on the first day of the test after an impressive day of running.
Formula 2 Champion Oscar Piastri got a taste of Formula One as he drove the 2021 Alpine car, with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso sharing duties in the mule car.
Valtteri Bottas got his first run out for Alfa Romeo in a very cool winter-inspired helmet along with Guanyu Zhou, who took part in his first test for the team ahead of his debut season in F1. The team didn’t have anyone drive their 2021 car and instead focused on their new driver pairing in the mule car.
Aston Martin had their driver pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll testing for the team in the mule car, with Nick Yelloly driving the 2021 car in the young driver test.
Haas were the only team to run their 2021 car on the second day of testing with Robert Shwartzman topping the timesheets on the second day. Pietro Fittipaldi replaced the isolating Nikita Mazepin on the second day of the test, with Mick Schumacher driving on the first day of the test.
Williams opted not to take part in the mule car testing due to cost, but Logan Sargent tested with the team for the first time, completing 92 laps on the first and only day of testing the team had.
The post-season test at Abu Dhabi brings the curtain down on 2021 for Formula One and while the legal battle between Mercedes and the FIA will keep us entertained between now and pre-season, everyone involved in the sport deserves a well-earned rest.