FI: Valtteri Bottas on top in Abu Dhabi GP practice
The Mercedes driver, winner in Abu Dhabi last year and still seeking his first win this season, lapped the 5.5-kilometer long Yas Marina circuit in a time of one minute, 37.236 seconds under the floodlights in the evening
Valtteri Bottas narrowly edged out Max Verstappen to end the opening day of practice for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets
The Mercedes driver, winner in Abu Dhabi last year and still seeking his first win this season, lapped the 5.5-kilometer long Yas Marina circuit in a time of one minute, 37.236 seconds under the floodlights in the evening.
Verstappen, who was on course to chalk up a second win in a row two weeks ago in Brazil until a collision with the lapped Force India of Esteban Ocon denied him, had led a Red Bull one-two in the opening afternoon session.
He was hot on Bottas’ heels in the evening, too, only just missing out on top spot by 0.044 seconds.
Five time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who nursing a high-mileage engine could well have to take a penalty if Mercedes decide to change it, was fourth in both sessions.
Bottas had been third in the afternoon but his jump to the top of the timesheets in the second session meant it was Daniel Ricciardo completing the top three in the evening.
The Australian, moving to Renault, would have found Red Bull’s Friday form encouraging as he bids to end his Red Bull career in style with a win or at least a podium in Sunday’s race.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth ahead of Sebastian Vettel with the Ferrari duo, seventh and eighth in the first session, enduring a lacklustre day.
Romain Grosjean was seventh for Haas ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault and team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
Esteban Ocon, who is moving into a reserve driver role for Mercedes with Williams’ Lance Stroll set to take his seat at Force India next season, rounded out the top ten.
Fernando Alonso, bowing out of Formula One after Sunday’s race, ended his last Friday practice session thirteenth.
McLaren have painted their car in a special Spanish-flag livery as a farewell tribute to the double world champion, who is sporting the same helmet colours this weekend as he did on his debut for Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix in 2001.
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