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Abu Dhabi Test Report (AM): Piastri brings out red flags, Leclerc fastest

Charles Leclerc set the pace for Ferrari in the morning of the Abu Dhabi post-season test, as Oscar Piastri came to a stop in his first outing in the McLaren MCL36.

Charles Leclerc and Robert Shwartzman topped the timesheets in the first half of running at the Abu Dhabi post-season test, whilst there were technical issues on Oscar Piastri's first outing in the McLaren MCL36. With all drivers running 2023 Pirelli tyres, the Monegasque driver set benchmark of 1:25.383, almost seven tenths of a second faster than his junior teammate, who was driving the second Ferrari earmarked for a 'rookie' driver. Fernando Alonso's first Aston Martin outing began positively, with the Spanish driver setting the third fastest time, ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, who was the busiest driver of the session, clocking over 80 laps. Both drivers finished just under one second off the pace. Pierre Gasly is currently fifth-fastest in his first session for Alpine, ahead of regular race drivers Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) and Lando Norris (McLaren). Aston Martin junior Felipe Drugovich, Williams' Alex Albon and Red Bull rookie driver Liam Lawson completed the top ten.

Power unit issues cause Piastri red flag

McLaren's incoming 2023 driver Piastri was forced to stop due to a "power unit protection trigger", which caused the car to shut down as a precaution. With the car recovered, the issue is set to have minimal impact on McLaren's running. He's currently P17 on the timesheets. Nico Hulkenberg's first day in Haas machinery was interrupted by a technical issue for the VF-22, which caused the German to stop on circuit, although no red flags were shown. The timing screen places Hulkenberg in P18 halfway through the session. Brazilian GP winner George Russell is P14 for Mercedes, with teammate Lewis Hamilton expected to run in the afternoon, along with Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz. As part of their existing sponsorship commitments, Pierre Gasly, Nyck de Vries and Fernando Alonso tested for their new teams in black or grey, sponsor-less suits. In keeping with Alonso's current sponsorships with Alpine, the Aston Martin AMR22 was run without stickers. In the first half of the session, there were off-track moments for Robert Shwartzman (Ferrari), Liam Lawson (Red Bull), Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri) and Alonso, but all escaped without damage.

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