Max Verstappen pictured on track just days after F1 world title testing new 18-inch tyres

Verstappen wins 2021 F1 world championship

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F1 teams are already getting ready for next season’s changes with most of the drivers back on track in Abu Dhabi for testing, including newly-crowned world champion Max Verstappen. The dust has barely settled from what proved to be a dramatic season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Verstappen clinched his first world title after a chaotic final lap following confusion from the FIA’s ruling on lapped cars being let through.

Mercedes were left incensed with Toto Wolff immediately retreating to his office before the team lodged two protests.

After hours of deliberating, both protests were dismissed with Christian Horner personally delivering the good news to Verstappen.

Red Bull ended up partying well into the early hours of Monday morning with Verstappen reportedly leaving early.

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He would have had one eye on his return to the track on Tuesday though with every team running Pirelli’s dedicated tyre test.

The post-season test has predominantly featured reserve drivers over the years with those competing in the F1 championship going off to begin their off-season break.

But with the 2022 regulations introducing a number of changes, it appears as though most of the drivers want to get an early indication of what to expect.

All 10 teams will feature, with nine running modified ‘mule’ cars to test the new 18-inch tyres.

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The Abu Dhabi F1 test runs over two days, with Verstappen back on track Tuesday while Sergio Perez is scheduled to be in the car on Wednesday.

Pictures showed Verstappen racing around Yas Marina with the larger tyres and was spotted with a huge smile on his face in the garage.

George Russell also made his first outing in a Mercedes car since replacing Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix back in 2020.

The Briton, who will take Valtteri Bottas’ seat at Mercedes next year, will run on both days of testing.

Lewis Hamilton is one of only a few drivers on next year’s grid who won’t be attending.

McLaren, Aston Martin, Alpine, Ferrari, AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo all have their usual drivers running on both days.

There will also be a chance for some of the reserve drivers to take to the track to run the 2021 cars on the regular 13-inch tyres.

Patricio O’Ward made his debut for McLaren on Tuesday while Oscar Piastri will drive the Alpine fresh from winning the F2 Championship.

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