Friday, 16 April 2021 10:20 GMT

Hamilton on top in Abu Dhabi practice


(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Freshly-minted world champion Lewis Hamilton laid down the early marker by topping the timesheets in second free practice for the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver, who clinched his fourth world championship with two rounds to spare in Mexico, lapped the 5.554km Yas Marina Circuit with the quickest time of 1:37.877 seconds, under the lights on Friday night.

The Briton, who is eyeing a 10th win this season, was 0.149 seconds quicker than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who had topped the first free practice, earlier in the afternoon. The German clocked 1:38.026 seconds.

Daniel Ricciardo was third in the Red Bull, with a timing of 1:38.180, while Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, clocking 1:38.352 seconds.

Finland's Raikkonen was followed by his compatriot Valtteri Bottas, with the Mercedes driver logging a time of 1:38.537 seconds, for fifth.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was sixth followed by Force India's Sergio Perez. Perez's teammate Esteban Ocon was eighth, while Renault's Nico Hulkenberg was ninth. McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10 with the double world champion clocking 1:39.559 seconds.

With the session beginning in the evening and ending in the night, it was slightly pleasant for the teams with track temperatures of 30 degrees.

Earlier, Vettel had topped the first free practice session in the afternoon, with a time of 1:39.006 seconds, 0.12 seconds faster than Hamilton, who logged a 1:39.126.

Verstappen was third, clocking 1:39.154 seconds, 0.364 seconds behind the leader. Raikkonen, whose SF70H was fitted with a new diffuser and large aero rake as the Maranello-based team tested new components for the 2018 car, was fourth. The Finn clocked 1:39.518 seconds.

Bottas, meanwhile, completed the top five with a time of 1:39.741 seconds. Force India's Sergio Perez was sixth, while McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso, who was sent out late in the session, was seventh.

Alonso's teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was eighth followed by Williams' Felipe Massa. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10. A couple of the teams gave an opportunity to drivers who are knocking on the doors of F1 with Antonio Giovinazzi in for Kevin Magnussen at Haas, while GP3 champion George Russell, who ran during free practice in Brazil, getting a second chance. The young Englishman was stepping in for Esteban Ocon at Force India and he finished 11th.

A few teams also trialled the halo, which comes into effect next year with Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Giovinazzi running the protective device around the cockpit.

The session had got going in the afternoon with track temperatures of 43 degrees and Brendon Hartley began proceedings with the New Zealander being the first man on track this weekend for Toro Rosso.

Bottas set the early pace with a timing of 1:44.180 seconds followed by teammate Hamilton, who set a time of 1:41.664s.

Hamilton then leapfrogged Bottas as Stroll was third. Raikkonen shaved off more and topped the timesheets with 1:40.638s, followed by Ricciardo, Hamilton and Massa. It was then a Ferrari one-two at the top with Vettel joining Raikkonen in second. Mercedes responded with a one-two of their own with Hamilton back at the top followed by Bottas.

With just a little over 15 minutes left in the 90-minute session, Vettel raised the bar with 1:39.006a and that stayed.


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