The test, to be held on the Tuesday following the final race of the season, will feature two cars per team. Race drivers will run the definitive 2023 Pirelli tyres in one car, and rookies will drive the other.
Traditionally the Abu Dhabi running sees drivers who are moving teams for the following year gain their first experience with their new outfits, assuming that they have been able to negotiate a release from their previous teams. Often part of the arrangement is that they appear in neutral or unbranded overalls.
AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost revealed in Mexico on Friday that Nyck de Vries will drive for his team, while Pierre Gasly is expected to make is first appearance for Alpine as part of the bigger deal that released him from the Red Bull camp for 2023.
However, Oscar Piastri has not yet been released by Alpine to drive for McLaren. The Enstone team’s boss Otmar Szafnauer noted in Mexico: “I think our legal teams are discussing that now. And I don’t know. There’ll be more next week, so ask me in Brazil.”
It’s understood that Alonso had to gain permission himself for his release from Alpine, with no direct involvement from Aston Martin, and that he has been able to do so.
Asked by Autosport if he had the cards in his hand that helped him to gain that release, Alonso smiled and said: “I’m always in charge of my own destiny!”
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Alonso is expected to run half a day of tyre testing in Abu Dhabi, with his new team-mate Lance Stroll doing the other half.
The Spaniard will be able to log further mileage with the AMR22 in Pirelli tyre testing in February, prior to the launch of the new car and the sole official test session in Bahrain a week prior to the first race of the season.
Meanwhile, Felipe Drugovich is due to drive last year’s Aston Martin AMR21 on the full Silverstone circuit on Tuesday, the same car having recently been used by Zak O’Sullivan for his Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award run.
As well as being the first big step in Drugovich’s development programme with the team, it will be an important day for the Brazilian as he will have to complete 300km in order to qualify to take part in FP1 at the Abu Dhabi GP.
If he fails to do so for any reason the team will have to find someone else to do the FP1 session, with De Vries the obvious candidate. Drugovich will however still be able to do the young driver test that follows the race weekend.
Aston Martin Ambassador Jess Hawkins is also scheduled to do some laps in the AMR21 on Tuesday, after Drugovich has run.
In other rookie driver news, Liam Lawson is expected to replace Max Verstappen at Red Bull in FP1 in Abu Dhabi, the Kiwi having already done two sessions for AlphaTauri.