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Fernando Alonso, Logan Sargeant and others get first drive with 2023 teams

Fernando Alonso had his first taste of Aston Martin machinery on Tuesday as he and five others familiarized themselves with their 2023 teams for the first time.

After one of the busiest driver markets in recent years, there are a few changes this year which are reflected in the lineup of the post-season test, held at the circuit which hosted the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the weekend.

Most teams are swapping driving duties throughout the day between multiple drivers– Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set the pace at the midway stage of the first session.

America’s newest F1 driver, Logan Sargeant, was at the wheel for Williams. Pierre Gasly, Alonso’s replacement at Alpine, drove for the French team on Tuesday. Dutchman Nyck de Vries, who will take Gasly’s place at AlphaTauri, settled in with his new crew.

Oscar Piastri got his first taste of McLaren after his protracted move to the team, where he replaces Daniel Ricciardo. Mick Schumacher’s Haas replacement Nico Hulkenberg got his first taste of that team’s car.

Alonso’s shock move, confirmed on the first day of the August summer break, saw the two-time world champion sign a contract for three seasons.

The Spaniard was in neutral coloured overalls on Tuesday — Alonso was seen moving some of his gear into the Aston Martin hospitality unit on Sunday evening, after his final race for Alpine.

Gasly will take Alonso’s place at Alpine next year, having finally got free of the Red Bull driver programme.

It was not massively unfamiliar territory for Sargeant, having done three free practice runs for Williams in the latter half of the season. The Floridian drove with the number 45 on his car although he told reporters on a conference call this week he is yet to decide on his career number for the 2023 and beyond.

Another 2023 rookie, Piastri, finally got to wear the papaya colors of McLaren. The team obtained his services after a long legal battle with his former team, Alpine, which was resolved in September.

De Vries has already driven this year at a race for Williams and in free practices for Aston Martin and Mercedes, he will finish the year with experience of four different 2022 cars after getting his first taste of the AlphaTauri.

Hulkenberg was seen in full Haas overalls for the first time — his spell as being F1’s “super-sub” will end in 2023 as he gets his first race seat since 2019.

The post-season test which will mark the final F1 action of 2022.

Next season will start with a three-day test in Bahrain between February 23-25, before the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 5.

Steve Carr

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