Abu Dhabi GP Practice One: Valtteri Bottas ahead, Sebastian Vettel spins

Bottas, who is braced for a back-of-the-grid start in Sunday’s race, made the most of his new engine in a baking hot opening session at Yas Marina, finishing more than half a second clear of his closest rivals.

His 1:36.957 was also set on medium tyres compared to others on softs.

Mercedes looked most at home around the sweeping circuit but Verstappen did edge Hamilton to place second, while Alex Albon was fourth in the other Red Bull.

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Hamilton, who, as the season’s champion, briefly had the No 1 on the bonnet of his Mercedes rather than No 44, had an earlier scare when limping back to the pits, but that was down to a sensor issue.

In the final P1 of the season, many teams were trialling new parts and Ferrari appeared to be focusing on 2020 preparations, with Vettel and Leclerc 1.9s and 2.2s off the pace respectively.

While those times won’t be too alarming to the Scuderia, they had a disastrous end to the session as Vettel lost control of his car in the final sector and spun, crashing into the barriers at Turn 19.

Vettel only arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening after making his way to the UAE late due to the birth of his third child.

That shunt brought an end to the session, but it wasn’t the only red flag of P1. Daniel Ricciardo suffered a dramatic engine failure in his Renault, with fire and then oil pouring from the back of his car.

The word from Renault is that it was an old engine anyway, and so Ricciardo will avoid grid penalties because of it. It was still hardly ideal for the Australian, however, to lose out on track time.

Romain Grosjean was a rare intruder into 2019’s regular top six in P1 as he impressed for Haas, while team-mate Kevin Magnussen was eighth behind Leclerc.

McLaren, likely concentrating on 2020 after wrapping up fourth this season, were only 11th and 17th through Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.

2019-11-29T12:36:17+00:00By |

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