The 2014 Formula 1 season ended this Sunday but for the teams, the work continued straight away. Following the season finale in Abu Dhabi they tested for two days at the same venue and invited three Formula 3 European Championship young-guns to the tests. In addition to Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) who already had covered their first kilometres at the wheel of F1 single-seaters, Richard Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport) also made the trip to Abu Dhabi to make his debut in a Formula 1 car.
On day one, only Max Verstappen was involved in the testing work. The Dutchman completed 55 laps at the wheel of a Toro Rosso vehicle to finish ninth on the time sheets. On day two, the 17-year old who already has been signed as GP driver for the 2015 season by the Scuderia Toro Rosso was even busier and completed a total of 78 laps. “Sitting behind the wheel for a total of four hours felt just great,” he beamed. “In the morning session we succeeded in completing our scheduled programme and could test several things for the 2015 season. In the afternoon, we were hampered by some technical problems but the team solved these problems before the session was over.” On the second day of testing, Verstappen crossed the line in 1:43.763 minutes, thus securing the third position on the time sheets.
Reigning FIA Formula 3 European Champion Esteban Ocon joined the test action only on day two. The long-term Lotus Formula 1 Junior contested the morning session for Team Lotus F1 and completed 34 laps. With his personal fastest lap time of 1:47.013 minutes, the Frenchman was the 10th-fastest on day two. “The tests ran really well,” he revealed before hitting the road back to France. “We completed the scheduled programme and didn’t focus on setting fast lap times. At the same time, I used the opportunity to keep on familiarising myself even with the E22 and I’m understanding the car better and better. Meanwhile, the team also supported me with a great feedback and that’s something I was particularly delighted with.”
In addition to Esteban Ocon and Max Verstappen who both have had bonds with Formula 1 teams for quite a while, Richard Goddard also was offered the chance of demonstrating his skills in a Formula 1 cockpit, at Abu Dhabi. The Australian covered his first Formula kilometres for Force India and did a great job. At the end of the day he had completed 89 laps and set a personal fastest lap time of 1:44.944 minutes, thus making it to sixth position on the time sheets. With this time, he out-paced – inter alia – his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo who was the fastest of the drivers not racing for the Mercedes-Benz works team, in the 2014 Formula 1 season, and finished third in the World Championship. “First of all I had to familiarise myself with the F1 car,” admitted Goddard, “But afterwards, I succeeded in improving consistently. I’m really delighted with my personal fastest lap time and I think that 89 laps represent a solid distance for the beginning. I’m rather happy about the day and the way the team worked with me. Now I would love to keep the bond with Force India alive.”
Also involved in the testing work on day two was Raffaele Marciello. At the wheel of a Ferrari, the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Champion finished second behind Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein.