Driver: Max Verstappen and Jüri Vips
Car: RB15 & RB16B
Laps: Jüri 96, Max 124
Best time: Jüri 1:25.198, Max 1:28.013
Circuit length: 5.281 km
Just two days after a hugely dramatic conclusion to the 2021 Formula One season, new World Champion Max Verstappen was back at the wheel of an F1 car at Yas Marina Circuit as the sport’s final test session of the year got underway.
Max put in 121 laps at the wheel of a car modified to test new Pirelli tyres for the 18” wheels, being introduced to the sport in 2022. The Champion was joined on day one of the two-day outing by 21-year-old Red Bull Racing Honda Junior Jüri Vips as F1 gave young drivers a taste of Formula One machinery. The Estonian FIA Formula Two driver completed 96 laps on his debut at the wheel of this year’s RB16.
Max: “It felt good to be back behind the wheel and it was good to get a feel for the new tyres. 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!”
Speaking about his first laps at the wheel of the RB16B, Juri Vips said: “I have been looking forward to this test for a while now, it is such a privilege to drive a Formula One car, even more so a Championship-winning one. It took my brain some time to get used to the speed of the RB16B because the pace is just crazy but then it is like any other car and you just get used to it and do your job. I had a small moment in the afternoon but fortunately everything was okay and I was back in the car soon after. I am super fortunate, first to be working with Red Bull Racing Honda but secondly to get the opportunity to drive this car.”
Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin added: “Today we had Jüri Vips with us for the young driver element of the test and he was effectively driving the car we raced during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. He mostly worked to confirm the results we had throughout the season and on simulator correlation. Max, meanwhile, was working in a prototype car to accept the bigger 18” tyres as closely as possible to the expected regulations in terms of weight and downforce. Everything went according to plan. We had already done quite a bit work on the new tyres with Alex Albon during the season so fortunately today we could just get on with it. The car was well balanced and it was a good day.”