Valtteri Bottas continued to be the benchmark driver at the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix with a clean sweep of Friday’s two practice sessions.
The Finn, comfortably fastest in FP1 despite the knowledge that he will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid due to multiple power unit element changes, topped the timesheets in the the floodlit second practice session. The Mercedes-AMG driver didn’t have his session completely go to plan, however, clumsily colliding with Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
Clear running in FP2 is vital in preparation for Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race which will be held in similar conditions. Bottas was again on the pace and on a cooler track he posted a time of 1:36.256 to edge teammate Lewis Hamilton by over three-tenths of a second.
Opting to run comparison tests on different front wing designs, it was looking to be a productive session for Bottas until he made an uncharacteristically impulsive dive up the inside of Grosjean at Turn 11. Grosjean turned in to the left-hander to take his normal line and chopped across Bottas’ front wing, sending both spinning. The contact damaged the W10’s front wing and left Grosjean – who finished the session ‘best of the rest’ in seventh-fastest – out of the remainder of the session with a damaged floor. The session was briefly red-flagged.
Bottas was later given a reprimand by the FIA Stewards – his first of the season – and he subsequently apologised to the Frenchman. The incident was a bitter blow for Grosjean, who had looked competitive thanks to new aerodynamic upgrades that will not be available for use in qualifying.
Hamilton, targeting a fifth win at Abu Dhabi where Mercedes-AMG has been utterly dominant in recent years, began his FP2 session with a downshift problem that was later solved. The Briton finishes less than one-tenth of a second quicker than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
The Monégasque driver almost repeated his teammate Sebastian Vettel’s FP1 crash at the tricky off-camber Turn 19 , brushing the outside barrier in his SF90 but continuing undaunted. He was fastest overall in the first two sectors of the Yas Marina Circuit lap. Vettel finished one-tenth of a second slower and was fourth-fastest.
Again about half a second off Bottas’ ultimate pace, Brazilian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen could only place fifth-quickest in FP2. The Dutch driver finished half a second clear of teammate Alexander Albon, however, with the Anglo-Thai driver completing the top six.
Behind seventh-placed Grosjean, Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez ended his Friday on a positive note with the eighth-fastest time, narrowly ahead of Toro Rosso duo Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly.
Just half a second separated Grosjean and Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (P15) in a tightly bunched midfield, with the McLarens of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris placing eleventh- and twelfth-fastest respectively, followed by Lance Stroll’s Racing Point and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.
The slowest five runners comprised Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo – back on the circuit with a replacement engine after his high-mileage unit blew in FP1 – and the two Alfa Romeo and Williams pairings.
|FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2019 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 2|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:36.256||29|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:36.566||+ 0.310||33|
|3.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:36.642||+ 0.386||30|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:36.691||+ 0.435||28|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:36.807||+ 0.551||30|
|6.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:37.288||+ 1.032||30|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:37.601||+ 1.345||17|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:37.637||+ 1.381||32|
|9.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:37.651||+ 1.395||34|
|10.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:37.770||+ 1.514||36|
|11.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:37.834||+ 1.578||32|
|12.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:37.918||+ 1.662||32|
|13.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:37.985||+ 1.729||32|
|14.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:38.080||+ 1.824||31|
|15.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:38.122||+ 1.866||29|
|16.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:38.400||+ 2.144||26|
|17.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:38.415||+ 2.159||30|
|18.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:38.464||+ 2.208||32|
|19.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:39.512||+ 3.256||32|
|20.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:40.455||+ 4.199||32|
Image via Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport