Liam Lawson was given a run in Max Verstappen's title-winning car by Red Bull. Robert Shwartzman replaced Carlos Sainz at Ferrari.
Friday marked the start of the end of the 2022 Formula One season, with drivers taking to the track at the Yas Marina Circuit for FP1, which saw Mercedes continue where they left off in Brazil with another one-two result, and plenty of unfamiliar faces gain track time. While Lewis Hamilton set a time of 1m 26.633s to beat teammate and Sao Paulo Grand Prix winner George Russell, eight of the ten teams used ‘rookie’ drivers for the one-hour race, with the majority completing the second of two such required outings in 2022.
Liam Lawson was given a run in Max Verstappen’s title-winning car by Red Bull. Robert Shwartzman replaced Carlos Sainz at Ferrari, and McLaren gave IndyCar star Pato O’Ward his F1 race weekend debut in Lando Norris’ cockpit. Further changes saw F2 champion Felipe Drugovich given his first FP1 run with Aston Martin and F1 promotion hopeful Logan Sargeant return to Williams, while Jack Doohan logged more mileage for Alpine, Pietro Fittipaldi drove for Haas, and former Grand Prix racer Robert Kubica drove the Alfa Romeo.
Up front, Hamilton led second-placed Russell by 0.220s, though the baking hot early afternoon conditions were largely unrepresentative, given that both qualifying and the race will take place as the sun sets. Behind them, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez previewed their showdown for second place in the drivers’ championship, finishing third and fourth, separated by less than a tenth of a second. Lawson was the highest-placed of the FP1-only drivers, finishing P5, just a few tenths behind regular Red Bull driver Perez – the New Zealander’s only issue being that he overshot his pit box, having been “used to driving further down” in F2.
Sebastian Vettel began his farewell F1 weekend by finishing sixth, ahead of confident Ferrari stand-in Shwartzman and former teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who is also leaving the sport – at least for 2023 – as he prepares to split with McLaren. Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo and Alex Albon of Williams completed the top ten, with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri sandwiching 12th-placed Esteban Ocon in his Alpine.
Kubica finished 14th in his first FP1 run since the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, followed by Williams promotion hopeful Sargeant, who added another bonus point to his Super Licence despite a dramatic spin at Turn 1. Kevin Magnussen and Fittipaldi were in P16 and P17 for Haas, with the latter drawing the ire and confusion of Gasly in the closing minutes of the session as cars tried to find some clear air.