Max Verstappen finished ahead of the Mercedes duo in FP1 in Abu Dhabi, dominating the majority of the session.
The final FP1 session of the year got underway at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The track has undergone significant changes in several areas.
Lewis Hamilton set the benchmark time a few minutes into the session before Max Verstappen appeared to set a 1:26.463 lap time. Lando Norris temporarily claimed P2, 3 tenths slower than Verstappen’s first lap. Hamilton quickly re-claimed the fastest lap, setting a 1:26.290.
Fernando Alonso then chipped ahead of Hamilton, going 19 hundredths of a second quicker. However, Verstappen improved significantly to go almost 7 tenths faster.
Halfway through the session, Verstappen led the field with a 1:25.300. He was followed closely by Hamilton, who sat a couple of tenths off. Sergio Perez trailed behind the two championship protagonists with a 1:25.994.
Hamilton made another attempt to surpass Verstappen but fell short by half a tenth. Perez also edged closer to the top two, running only 2 tenths shy of Verstappen.
Esteban Ocon experienced a scare with just over 20 minutes to go, slowing down on the second straight. Fortunately, the Frenchman got the car up to speed again. The engineer labeled the issue on the radio as a “false neutral”, indicating it was a gearbox issue that hindered Ocon.
Yuki Tsunoda put in a strong lap late in the session and managed to slot into 4th position. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas jumped ahead of Hamilton on the timing sheets, clocking a time just two tenths off the pace.
Drivers charged onto the track to make their final runs of the session to try and improve their lap times. However, most failed to improve. This included Sebastian Vettel, who spun his Aston Martin in the dying seconds of the session.
Max Verstappen remained at the top of the timing sheets at the checkered flag, beating out both Mercedes drivers in the first session of the weekend.
The results of the Abu Dhabi GP FP1:
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:25.009|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||+0.354|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+0.998|
|13||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||+1.180|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||+1.400|
|15||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+1.599|