Dual world champion Fernando Alonso was fastest in a 'young driver' F1 testing session in Abu Dhabi overnight – and set a faster time than Renault did in Grand Prix qualifying on the weekend.
Alonso, making an F1 comeback with Renault at 39, was given special dispensation by the FIA to drive in the session. He made the most of the extra preparation.
Alonso, world champion for Renault in 2005-06, topped the time sheets with a lap of 1:36.333; faster than what Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon managed in the RS20 car during qualifying for the Abu Dhabi GP. In his first official drive in the car, the Spanish legend also notched 105 laps at the Yas Marina circuit.
"It was good and very nice to be back in the car especially with the race team," Alonso said.
"I've been testing the 2018 car in preparation but this one felt a bit more serious and it ignited a little bit the competitive spirit. It was great to feel the modern cars and experience what they can do.
"We signed off lots of basic things we did in preparation at the factory like seat fitting, pedal position and so on, which is beneficial with only one and a half days of winter testing next year. We ticked boxes today and we go into Christmas and New Year with good spirit and everyone motivated in the team."
Alonso is replacing Ricciardo at Renault next season after the Australian switched to McLaren. Ricciardo managed two podiums this year and finished fifth in the drivers' championship.
F2 driver Guanyu Zhou also tested for Renault and was ninth on the timesheets, with a best lap of 1:37.902.
Mick Schumacher drove for Haas, with whom he has his first F1 appointment next season. Schumacher was last on the time sheets (1:39.947), yet completed 125 laps and impressed his team.
"His attitude was excellent, as was his understanding of the program, his understanding of the car and working with the engineers to improve his tire management – it was excellent," Haas engineering chief Ayao Komatsu said. "We're very happy."
Yuki Tsunoda, the F2 star who is set to replace Daniil Kvyat at AlphaTauri next season, was fifth on the time sheets. He had a best lap of 1:37.557 and completed 123 laps.
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