Verstappen leads Red Bull 1-2 in FP1 in Abu Dhabi

Verstappen leads Red Bull 1-2 in FP1 in Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen, Photo: Red Bull

Max Verstappen led the way during the opening practice session for Formula 1’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Verstappen posted a time of 1:38.491 on hypersoft tyres at Yas Marina.

That lap left him over a second clear of his rivals, though Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo drew to within 0.454s to complete a 1-2 for the squad, with both running the pink-banded Hypersoft tyres.

Mercedes took third and fourth, with Valtteri Bottas (Supersofts) ahead of Lewis Hamilton (Ultrasofts).

The Finn 0.961s behind Verstappen at the scene of his most recent Formula 1 victory.

Hamilton is sporting the number 1 in place of his usual 44 on the nose of his Mercedes W09 at Yas Marina this weekend, granted permission by the FIA to do so.

Outgoing Force India driver Esteban Ocon was fifth, ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, with Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel a low-key seventh and eighth respectively.

Carlos Sainz Jr. began his final weekend as a Renault driver in ninth spot, via a spin through Turn 18 that left his R.S.18 making light rear-end contact with the wall, while Romain Grosjean capped the top 10 for Haas.

Pierre Gasly brought his session to a premature end in the final few minutes when he returned his Toro Rosso STR13 to the pit lane with smoke trailing from the rear, though had already clocked a time quick enough for 11th spot.

Nico Hulkenberg took 12th for Renault, in front of Force India’s Sergio Perez, Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Williams’ Lance Stroll.

Antonio Giovinazzi had another outing ahead of his full 2019 debut with Sauber and placed 16th.

While the departing Marcus Ericsson spun through the exit of Turn 1. It caused minor front wing damage to his C37 by brushing the barriers.

McLaren’s lacklustre form continued as the departing Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso took only 18th and 19th. The Belgian 3.6s off the pace, two-tenths ahead of the Spaniard.

Robert Kubica, in the final of his three planned FP1 runs, brought up the rear of the pack. A day after confirmation that he will return to a race seat in 2019.