Shwartzman puts Haas top of the timesheets on final day of post-season Abu Dhabi test


It took until the final day of track running in 2021, but Haas have finally topped a session, as Robert Shwartzman posted the quickest time of the second day of testing in Abu Dhabi.

The Ferrari junior was making his debut for Haas, having driven for the Scuderia on Tuesday, and he had a slightly unfair advantage as the only Young Driver Test runner on Wednesday. That meant Shwartzman was running the 2021 Haas compared to the other nine drivers in mule cars testing 18-inch Pirelli tyres, and he duly topped the times after some late qualifying simulations.

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The Russian’s best lap of 1m 25.348s put him half a second clear of Lando Norris, who was using McLaren’s adapted car for tyre testing and also carrying an LED panel display on the rear wheel covers that the team were using.

Norris completed 103 laps and had finished running with an hour remaining, with his total being the second-lowest of the day. The only driver to complete fewer laps was George Russell, who was also one of just two runners, along with Alfa Romeo's Guanyu Zhou, to take part in both days of testing, with his new Mercedes team. Russell was fourth fastest – 0.6s off Norris with a 1m 26.404s – and just 0.025s slower than Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin.

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Vettel caused the only red flag on Wednesday, stopping on track with a technical issue just before midday, but returning to action soon after.

The lack of stoppages ensured there were some big totals in terms of laps, with Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sanz, Fernando Alonso and Guanyu Zhou all within three laps of each other. Gasly was fifth fastest and 0.047s off Russell’s best time after 149 laps, but it was Sainz in sixth who had the highest total with 151.

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Haas drivers bookended the session as Pietro Fittipaldi – standing in for Nikita Mazepin after he tested positive for Covid-19 in Abu Dhabi at the weekend – was 10th, but ended up just 0.1s off team mate Mick Schumacher’s time from Tuesday on the same tyre compound, as he got some unexpected track time to round off the year.

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