It would be Valtteri Bottas who ended the final Saturday of the Formula One Season on top around the Yas Marina Circuit in Free Practice 2.
His Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport teammate Lewis Hamilton may have had the #1 on his car during first practice, but it would be Bottas who had the upper hand for much of the session. After beating the champion on his first run, he took the top of the time sheets on his first HyperSoft lap. Eventually setting a best of 1:37.236.
After topping Free Practice 1, all pressure would have been on Max Verstappen. The Dutchman went second on his opening run, but the following lap ran over new outside kerb in the final sector. He asked his mechanics to check floor, though would later go back out to set a more competitive time on the faster tyre.
Third would be Daniel Ricciardo, with both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s showing strong pace during their race runs.
Kimi Raikkonen had been the first driver, just before the half hour mark, to put a lap on the HyperSoft tyres. With his rivals all pitted, assessing their opening run on the SuperSofts, he remained on top for another fifteen minutes. It would not last though, falling to fifth ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
A number of early lock ups had seen many of the midfield runners sacrifice early running, though despite an early skirmish Romain Grosjean remained best of the rest throughout the latter half of the session. His teammate Kevin Magnussen would be two tenths slower in tenth, making the Haas F1 Team the midfield outfit to beat.
Nico Hulkenberg, who looks set to end the season as best of the rest, was eighth in Practice, the last driver to set a lap within a second of Bottas. The French pairing of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly who finished tenth and eleventh respectively. While Ocon appears to have put his Brazilian Grand Prix crash behind him, Racing Point Force India F1 Team did release the #31 from the pits, just ahead of Verstappen, causing the Dutchman to react at the “unsafe release”.
For many drivers, this session was an end of an era, with twelve of the grid either leaving F1 or moving teams after this weekend. As a result, Friday proved to be a day of proving oneself.
One of these drivers who was moving on, Fernando Alonso, was sporting a different styled helmet to earlier in the day. It didn’t appear to help him though as he finished thirteenth behind fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who was running a #14 on his helmet, to commemorate Alonso.
Sergio Perez was four tenth behind his teammate in fourteenth. Brendon Hartley ended what might be his last Friday run in sixteenth ahead of Marcus Ericsson and Stoffel Vandoorne, both of which will also be waving goodbye, as Lance Stroll was 2.8 seconds off the pace in nineteenth.
Elsewhere, two drivers were back in the car after sitting out Free Practice 1 as one of these; Charles Leclerc ended his session fifteenth, while Sergey Sirotkin (who had lended his car to Robert Kubica) once again rounded out the grid.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Results
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