Day 1 of the post-season testing commenced at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, at 14:00 Local Time on 29th November.
The afternoon session concentrated on long run pace and setup, with F2 newcomers Durksen (PHM) and Goethe (Trident) taking to the track on an hot UAE day, with air temperatures reaching 30°C.
MP Motorsport began their session with pit-stop simulations, focusing on halting and lifting the car quickly, rather than tyre changes.
PHM Racing’s Josh Mason led early with a lap time of 1:57.025 after a single push lap, followed closely by Durksen and Goethe, who were the only ones to set full lap times within the first 15 minutes.
After six laps, Rodin Carlin’s Miyata clocked a time of 1:37.796, aligning the lap times with those from the morning session. Speaking to him post session he explained, “The car is very different from the Super Formula, so there is a lot to learn.” After three days he explained he would feel quite comfortable.
Thirty minutes in, the early pace setters – Miyata, Durksen, and Maloney, with Martins closely following – remained consistent, as most drivers began accumulating mileage. Martins completed 17 laps by this point.
Aron, driving for Hitech Pulse-Eight, surged to the top with a 1:37.555 on his sixth lap, turning the fastest sector purple. By then, Goethe had completed 23 laps, familiarising himself with the Dallara F2 2018 model for Trident.
Several drivers passed through the pit lane after an hour for practice starts, continuing to build mileage on the Medium tyres. Half of the grid had surpassed 20 laps in their long run simulations by this stage.
Notably, it was Kush Maini of Invicta Virtuosi who did not record a track time in the first half of the session, later explaining to us post session that the focus was on setup and preparing for longer runs in the coming days.
As lap times gradually improved, Marti, driving for Red Bull Campos Racing, set a session-best of 1:37.529 on his 8th lap, momentarily causing a lull in track activity as most drivers, except the DAMS duo of Correa and Crawford, remained off-track.
When full service resumed for the second half of the session, PREMA Racing’s Ollie Bearman led with a time of 1:37.316 on his 17th lap. His teammate, Antonelli, initially posted fast sectors but was penalised for exceeding track limits at T16. Mid-session, the top three read Bearman, Marti, and Aron, all three were in the 1:37’s as the times continued to shave downward, with the top six drivers separated by just half a second.
In the final 30 minutes, the top three were Martin (1:37.032), Bortoleto (1:37.044), and Cordeel (1:37.059) as the grid kept edging off thousands of a second.
Then as we got into the last 20 minutes saw a final surge of activity, with Trident’s Verschoor leading at 1:36.425 on his 26th lap, slightly ahead of Hadjar and Hauger, who both recorded times in the 1:36’s.
As dusk approached a few moments later, PREMA’s Ferrari Junior, Ollie Bearman, topped Verschoor’s time with a 1:36.092. His teammate, Antonelli, quickly followed with a 1:36.257, securing second place without track limit violations this time to hold on to the position. The top rookie of 2023, Victor Martins, posted a best lap of 1:394 to round out the top three.
Image: Formula Motorsport Limited