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Abu Dhabi F1 test report: Ferrari leads the way as Kubica gets in the groove with Williams

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Abu Dhabi F1 test report: Ferrari leads the way as Kubica gets in the groove with Williams
Nov 29, 2017, 5:13 PM

Ferrari topped the timesheets in both days of Pirelli's post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre test, with Kimi Raikkonen heading day one before Sebastian V...

Ferrari topped the timesheets in both days of Pirelli's post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre test, with Kimi Raikkonen heading day one before Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap on the last day of Formula 1 testing this year.

Raikkonen set a 1m37.768s on the brand new hyper-soft tyre - launched by Pirelli last week - on Tuesday, before Vettel took over to head Wednesday's session having set a 1m37.551s in the morning's running.

Mercedes and Red Bull traded positions between both days, as Daniel Ricciardo was second fastest ahead of Lewis Hamilton on day one, while Valtteri Bottas edged ahead of Max Verstappen in the second day's running.

However, most of the intrigue from the F1 fraternity came from Williams' continued assessment of Robert Kubica, who is in pole position for the seat vacated by the retiring Felipe Massa.

Kubica completed over 100 laps before handing over to Lance Stroll on the first day, with amazing consistency of lap times on 12 lap runs, before adding another 28 laps to his tally on the second day as Sergey Sirotkin did the majority of running.

A legacy of Kubica's rally crash in 2011, which enforced the Pole's premature hiatus from F1, is believed to be restricted mobility in his right arm.

However, Kubica was adamant that he was in even better physical shape compared to 2010, when he last competed in the sport.

"There is someone saying I'm driving one-handed. I'm not driving one-handed," he said. "I think it's impossible to drive a Formula 1 car with one hand.

"But I have some limitations so in some way my body used some compensations, which is not wrong. We are human beings and our brains are used to help our bodies overcome disabilities. This is normal daily life.

"This is something I think I'm on top of. Physically I think I have done great work in the last six months - it hasn't been easy, it was not like I have been lying in my bed.

"Probably I'm in physically in my best shape, by far a better shape than I was when I was racing in 2010, so motivation is there and the body is reacting in a good way."

Kubica admitted that adapting to the new cars took some time, but believed that he had got to grips with the current ruleset of Formula 1. Since his departure, F1 has welcomed hybrid powertrains and faster cars, of which Kubica now has experience both with Renault and Williams.

"Of course I'm starting nearly from scratch because Formula 1 has changed so much in the last seven years that it's like nearly starting from zero.

"But my experience which I gained in the years I was racing in Formula 1 helped me to get on top of the learning process quicker than it used to be in the past."

Williams technical director Paddy Lowe also praised Kubica's progress, intimating that there were no physical boundaries stopping him from re-entering F1. However, Lowe said that Williams still has to make a decision with regards to who it will run next year.

"Yes, there are no issues around that subject [Kubica's fitness]," said Lowe.

"He did a great job, we were very happy with that absolutely with the number of laps and with the running altogether.

"[His feedback is] very good. He is a driver of tremendous experience and very knowledgable around his work. His job is a professional racing driver so he has that confidence and you can feel it in the garage - so everybody's happy with Robert."

Kubica was ninth fastest on Tuesday, over a second off of Stroll's best, before setting the seventh-best time on Wednesday.

Force India ran development driver Nikita Mazepin for the first day, before placing fourth and fifth on the second day as regular drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon shared the car.

Haas and Renault deployed their current drivers in the test, the latter finishing sixth fastest on both days. Grosjean was fourth fastest on the first day, while Kevin Magnussen was ninth overall on day two.

McLaren was the only team permitted to run two cars - having missed the scheduled post-Brazil test following a number of security concerns. Test driver Oliver Turvey ran alongside Fernando Alonso on Tuesday, before Lando Norris and Stoffel Vandoorne took over for the team's last running in partnership with Honda.

Charles Leclerc took over from Marcus Ericsson on the day that Sauber's tie-up with Alfa Romeo was announced, while Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly were bottom of the timing board in the last session after Toro Rosso ran Sean Gelael on the first day.
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