(Reuters) – Max Verstappen donned golden shoes as he got back behind the wheel for tire tests in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday after winning the Formula 1 World Championship for Red Bull.
The 24-year-old Dutch driver, who controversially beat seven-time Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s season-ending race, completed Yas Marina 124 laps on the new 18-inch tires for 2022.
Mercedes still decides to appeal the nL1N2SX0A2 race result and has until Thursday evening, Verstappen is due to receive the champion’s trophy at a gala ceremony in Paris.
Verstappen passed Hamilton with seven corners to go on Sunday after the safety car rules were changed, giving him an opportunity that Mercedes believed shouldn’t have been allowed.
George Russell turned out for Mercedes, starting the next step in his career after leaving Williams and replacing Valtteri Bottas.
Reserve team and Formula E champion Nyck de Vries joined the Briton and completed the fastest lap while the young drivers also had track time.
New Australian Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri completed 131 laps for Alpine, who also asked regular racing driver Esteban Ocon to test the tires.
Guanyu Zhou, who will become China’s first Formula 1 driver next season, has tested for Alfa Romeo with Bottas also making his debut for the Switzerland-based team.
McLaren gave Mexican IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward his first decent F1 outing with Daniel Ricciardo who also completed a day of testing before going into quarantine in Australia.
“What a car … I was expecting something ridiculous, but it’s beyond ridiculous,” O’Ward said of the experience. “I had a hard time keeping my head up at the end.
“Nothing that I have driven comes close, not even a hint of close. It’s incredible.”
New Zealander Liam Lawson tested AlphaTauri, American Logan Sergeant with Williams and Briton Nick Yelloly with Aston Martin. Ferrari tested Russian Robert Shwartzman and Italian Antonio Fuoco.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)