Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas set the pace at conclusion of Friday Practice for 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton finished second quickest on his return.
Bottas comes into this weekend needing to avoid being outscored by Max Verstappen with a 17 point swing in the Dutchman’s favour if he is to become 2020 vice-champion, as both drivers set the pace across both sessions.
Racing Point meanwhile are locked in a three-way fight for third with McLaren and Renault with Friday Practice providing a glimpse of how closely matched those three teams are.
Now here is a full roundup of FP1 and FP2, which included a Pirelli 2021 C4 tyre test requiring eight laps at minimum.
With FP1 conditions not ideal to extract useful data given the mid-evening nature of this race, several teams opted to test parts ahead of the 2021 season, with Alfa Romeo fielding Robert Kubica in Antonio Giovinazzi’s place for the session whilst 2020 F2 champion – Mick Schumacher drove Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.
Alex Albon was first out on track as several drivers ventured out unusually early compared to normal for FP1 with Valtteri Bottas setting the early pace on a 1m 39.313 until Max Verstappen posted a 1m 39.113 to go top, just after Daniel Ricciardo’s session was ended on the run to Turn 11 with a fuel pressure issue.
Bottas however struck straight back with a 1m 37.412 on soft tyres to lead Verstappen at the half-way point when drivers returned a set of tyres to Pirelli, with Sakhir race winner – Sergio Perez, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz rounding out the top five.
Hamilton meanwhile focused mainly on long runs as he adapted back to his car after reporting early issues with his brakes as several drivers spent the second half of this session focused mainly on race simulations after some qualifying simulations.
Verstappen ultimately went fastest just under the hour mark with a 1m 37.378 which was 0.034s quicker than Bottas’ best effort as Renault’s Esteban Ocon found himself third fastest.
Alex Albon recovered from a spin at Turn 12 on his first quali simulation attempt to go fourth quickest ahead of Hamilton, Lance Stroll, Perez, Daniil Kvyat, Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen.
With Pirelli forcing every team to run a sample set of 2021 C4 tyres for a minimum of eight laps, everyone was straight out at the beginning of this session with Bottas setting the early pace on a 1m 37.818 from Hamilton by 0.103s, with Gasly finishing the prototype run ahead of Raikkonen, Perez, Stroll, Lando Norris, Sainz, Charles Leclerc and Ocon.
Hamilton then went top on mediums with a 1m 36.479 which was bettered by Bottas with a 1m 36.276 as Albon saw his medium tyre time deleted for exceeding track limits, with Verstappen slotting into third.
Williams’ George Russell was the first to attempt a qualifying simulation which lifted him to 12th before everyone else came out for their attempts, with Bottas and Hamilton both failing to improve after mistakes at Turns One and 21 respectively saw Bottas back out and Hamilton’s 1m 36.097 deleted.
Verstappen meanwhile was impeded on his first flier by Perez who was on a long medium tyre run but eventually improved on his medium tyre time by just 0.011s to finish third fastest ahead of Albon and Norris.
Ocon was sixth quickest as just 0.003s separated him and Ricciardo in ninth, with the latter only finishing ninth by virtue of setting his lap time of 1m 37.508 after Charles Leclerc had posted the same lap time as Perez finished 0.001s slower than Ocon in seventh.
Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten whilst Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel managed to only set the 15th fastest time in this session in his final race weekend for the Scuderia.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile brought the race simulations to an early end when his power unit failed and caught ablaze out of Turn Seven, with the 2007 champion forced to put the flames out himself in a 12 minute red flag.
Hamilton encountered a brief scare shortly after the restart when his Mercedes gearbox struggled to get out of first gear, forcing the seven-time champion to stop outside the Haas garage of Pietro Fittipaldi and reset his gearbox before moving on his way again.
Friday Practice Results
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m 37.378|
|2||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.034|
|3||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 1.137|
|4||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 1.169|
|5||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 1.366|
|6||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 1.453|
|7||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 1.578|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||+ 1.772|
|9||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 1.782|
|10||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.821|
|11||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 1.952|
|12||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.966|
|13||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.974|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 2.292|
|15||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.527|
|16||George Russell||Williams||+ 3.068|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 3.685|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 3.857|
|19||Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas||+ 6.691|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||No Time Set|
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 36.276|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.203|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.770|
|4||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 0.987|
|5||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.162|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 1.229|
|7||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 1.230|
|8||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.232|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 1.232|
|10||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 1.284|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||+ 1.320|
|12||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 1.340|
|13||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 1.624|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.792|
|15||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 1.922|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 2.228|
|17||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.288|
|18||George Russell||Williams||+ 2.541|
|19||Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas||+ 2.751|
|20||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 2.856|