- Abu Dhabi Test - Day One
Bottas fastest as McLaren issue delays Honda run on first morning
Valtteri Bottas set the pace on the opening morning of Abu Dhabi's post-race test as the teams turned their attention to the 2015 season just two days after the 2014 finale.
The two-day test is taking place at the Yas Marina circuit this week and has already seen a number of key changes up and down the pit lane. McLaren is hoping to run its 2015 Honda power unit for the first time at an official test, although by lunch time in Abu Dhabi the team was still working on an electrical issue on the interim McLaren MP4-29H1x1. It is aiming to up mileage on the engine after it completed a filming day at Silverstone earlier this month, but stressed that the focus would be on reliability rather than performance at this stage. GP2 runner-up and McLaren development driver Stoffel Vandoorne will be at the wheel of the McLaren-Honda on both days of the test.
"We are triple checking some electrical issues we may have with the ground, particularly, which is a part we have built as McLaren and we just want to be very careful," racing director Eric Boullier explained. "At the minimum you may burn the harness, but you may also damage any ECUs or this kind to thing. We want to make sure that we triple check, and leaving the garage at 9am or 10am or 12pm or 1pm doesn't change anything."
Sebastian Vettel was present in the Ferrari garage to get to know his future employers ahead of his move to Maranello over the winter. Red Bull has prevented Vettel from testing for his new team this week, but he was able to listen in on his 2015 team-mate Kimi Raikkonen via a pair of Ferrari team headphones.
The test also saw Marcus Ericsson make his debut at Sauber ahead of a full-time drive with the team next year, while Toro Rosso's 2015 driver Max Verstappen got back behind the wheel of this year's car after a series of practice sessions this year. A suspension problem pitched Verstappen into the barriers after three laps, damaging the front of the car and putting an end to his test.
But as much as things change, they also stay the same as Nico Rosberg got back to work in the Mercedes just two days after losing the title to team-mate Lewis Hamilton. He set the second fastest time, 1.248s off Bottas, and completed a total of 43 laps. Raikkonen was third fastest ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr in the Red Bull, who is driving the car as his reward for winning the Formula Renault 3.5 title this year.
Ericsson's Sauber was fifth ahead of Will Stevens in the Caterham, who was back in the car after his first full grand prix weekend with the team at the Abu Dhabi GP. GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer set the pace in the first hour, but completed only 18 laps before the Force India ground to a halt on track. His time was still quicker than Charles Pic who completed 42 laps in the Lotus during the morning.
Times at lunch break:
1. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:43.884 38 laps 2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:45.132 51 laps 3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:46.016 36 laps 4. Carols Sainz Jr Red Bull 1:47.079 42 laps 5. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:48.139 50 laps 6. Will Stevens Caterham 1:48.155 50 laps 7. Jolyon Palmer Force India 1:48.350 18 laps 8. Charles Pic Lotus 1:48.711 42 laps 9. Max Verstapppen Toro Rosso No time 3 laps 10. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren No time 0 laps