Sebastian Vettel Ends Free Practice 1 Fastest in Abu Dhabi

by Aaron Gillard

Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the session in Free Practice 1 ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The German ended the session with a 1:39.006, 0.120 seconds quicker than Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team‘s Lewis Hamilton. Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen finished in third in the session.

The Finnish drivers of Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas rounded up the top five followed by Sahara Force India F1 Team‘s Sergio Perez.

With their final weekend as partners, McLaren Honda F1 Team started the weekend with promising pace with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne ending the session seventh and eighth quickest.

Williams Martini Racing’s Felipe Massa set the ninth fastest time ahead of his last F1 race before retiring and Daniel Ricciardo rounds up the top ten at Yas Marina.

The session kicked off with the drivers heading out onto the sunny Abu Dhabi circuit to set their track acclimatisation laps. Valtteri Bottas set the initial first lap time before team-mate Hamilton beat it by 1:3 seconds with the soft tyres.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen tested a new diffused earlier in the session with aero rakes attached to the rear of the SF70H.

Sauber F1 Team‘s Marcus Ericsson and Antonio Giovinazzi, filling in for Kevin Magnussen in the Haas F1 Team, tested out the Halo cockpit protection system in the session in preparation for mandatory use in 2018.

Newly crowned GP3 Series Champion George Russell took part in the session for the second grand prix in a row, filling in for Esteban Ocon for the Friday morning runnings.

Within thirty minutes of the session, Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap of the session with a 1:40.638 on the Ultrasoft tyres. Hamilton later on in the session would improve on his time and set the quickest time with a 1:39.126. Bottas soon followed the second best time.

Renault Sport F1 Team‘s Carlos Sainz Jr. ended his session thirty minutes early due to a schedule engine change for the Spanish driver.

A few drivers made errors after the hour mark with Nico Hulkenberg got caught in a spin at Turn 14 but was able to resume running. Giovinazzi in the Haas soon followed at Turn 17 with George Russell running wide at the same turn by the Yas Viceroy Hotel.

With less than twenty minutes remaining, Sebastian Vettel went top of the time sheets, going 0.120 faster than Hamilton on the Ultrasofts. The Brit tried to get back onto the top with a flying lap but running wide at Turn 1 prevented any improvement.

Romain Grosjean got caught in a spin after the under pass of the hotel with the rear end of his Haas and hit the barrier. The French driver was able to continue with no damage and return to the pits.

With two minutes on the clock, Bottas returned to track with the halo cockpit protection device onboard for an installation lap before returning to the pits.

The session concluded with Vettel setting the pace ahead of the Mercedes, most drivers getting laps under their belts in preparation with the second session under the flood lights, where the race will take place under twilight conditions.

15Sebastian VettelScuderia Ferrari1:39.00623
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:39.1260.12025
333Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:39.1540.14815
47Kimi RaikkonnenScuderia Ferrari1:39.5180.51222
577Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:39.7410.73530
611Sergio PerezSahara Force India F1 Team1:40.2931.28724
714Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda Formula 1 Team1:40.5221.51620
82Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda Formula 1 Team1:40.5691.56315
919Felipe MassaWilliams Martini Racing1:40.7231.71727
103Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing1:40.7731.76729
1135George RussellSahara Force India F1 Team1:41.1312.12526
128Romain GrosjeanHaas-F1 Team1:41.3062.30024
1318Lance StrollWilliams Martini Racing1:41.5812.57527
1410Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso1:41.6462.64029
1555Carlos Sainz JrRenault Sport Formula One Team1:41.7482.74223
1694Pascal WehrleinSauber F1 Team1:41.7522.74626
1727Nico HulkenbergRenault Sport Formula One Team1:41.8642.85826
1850Antonio GiovinazziHaas-F1 Team1:42.0653.05921
199Marcus EricssonSauber F1 Team1:42.3443.33828
2028Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso1:42.5853.57935

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