The 2021 season may have come to a close on Sunday, but drivers and teams were straight out on track this week to begin testing the 2022 Pirelli range ahead of next season.
Teams have been spending some time putting the 18-inch Pirelli rims through their paces, with the newly crowned world champion, Max Verstappen out on track on Tuesday, followed by teammate Perez behind the wheel on Wednesday.
After the test, Verstappen said there were no major shocks with the performance of the new tyres.
“It felt good to be back behind the wheel and it was good to get a feel for the new tyres,” he said.
“Everything went smoothly and there were no major shocks around the tyres, which is always positive. Everything changes next year and the cars will be very different, so it’s good to have initial information about the tyres.
“It was a good day today at the end of a very long but ultimately massively rewarding season and now I’m very much looking forward to some time away from the racetrack!”
After Sergio Perez’s time on the new rubber, he said: “It has been a really interesting day, the new tyres feel quite different from the current ones, in terms of how they behave and I have been nicely surprised by them.
“I know it is early days but generating temperature in them has been one of the things we have been working on and they seem to be more robust in terms of surface overheating.
“It has been enjoyable being out there today and at the moment I have a good feeling about these tyres. It was nice to be back in the RB15 today because it reminded me of my first ever day with Red Bull Racing Honda and to think that was just at the beginning of the year, it feels like that happened three years ago!
“It’s been such a long but enjoyable year and I am looking forward to spending some time back home in Mexico before we come back strong in 2022.”
Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo took to the track for McLaren on Monday and said: “It’s been a good day of testing to close out the 2021 season.
“Getting some track time on the 2022 tyre has been really useful. We’ve managed to learn a lot and gather a load of data, which is useful heading into next season.
“There’s still some bits we need to learn before we go racing next year but we’re in a good place. Now I’m looking forward to getting home, catching up with family and taking some time off before we get back in the car in February.”
His teammate Lando Norris jumped behind the wheel on day two and later said: “It was really good to get a feel for the new tyres and understand more about how they work.
“We’ve collected a lot of useful information over the last two days and this data will help us to work on things over the winter break and hopefully answer a few questions we had.
“There’s a lot of work to do ahead of next season, but I’m already excited. For now though, it’s important that everyone gets a well-deserved break after this long season.
“I want to say a big thanks to the whole team here and back home for all their hard work, and wish everyone a great holiday to rest and recharge with their family and friends before we go again early next year. Happy holidays!”
Meanwhile, Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow completed 306 laps, equivalent to almost six times the distance of last Sunday’s Grand Prix, during the first of two days of testing at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit.
Charles Leclerc was the first to drive the car on 18-inch wheels, covering 87 laps, his last of this long season, after which he said: “It’s useful to continue to get an understanding of the new size of tyre, which is bigger than those we used to the end of this season.
“The wheels are very big and the feeling through the wheel is quite different. The team has acquired plenty of data, which will be useful in preparing the 2022 car.
“Personally, today helped me learn more about these tyres, even though I doubt the feeling from this car will be the same as those from next year’s one, given that it will be conceptually very different.”
Carlos Sainz then took to the track this afternoon, and said: “I’m happy with the number of laps we managed to do. I’m more tired mentally than physically, because by the end of the season, you’re super fit, but in your head, you have concentrate right to the end, because you are still driving a Formula 1 car.
“Being able to test these 18 inch tyres a lot was very interesting. There are obvious differences but I’d say that, overall, they are going in the right direction.
“From what I could feel today, I think it will call for a change to certain aspects of one’s driving style, but after all, we already knew we would have to do this with the cars we will get to drive next year being completely different to the ones we used up until last Sunday.”