2019 Abu Dhabi GP: Friday Practice Roundup

Valtteri Bottas topped Friday Practice ahead of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as teams got to grips with Yas Marina circuit and trialled new parts ahead of next season.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen however posed stern opposition throughout whilst Turn 19 proved problematic for Italian cars and driver throughout today. 

Now please enjoy my roundup of all the Practice action as teams prepared for the final race of not only this season but also this decade. 


Practice One

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Daniil Kvyat was straight out of the blocks ahead of Robert Kubica for their installation laps, although it was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who set the first flier of a 1m 40.298s just eight minutes into the session. 

Everyone soon began coming out to get their early soft tyre running done as Valtteri Bottas quickly set the benchmark of a 1m 38.053s, only to then go 0.078s faster on his next lap.

He then again improved six minutes later by 0.036s, only for Lewis Hamilton to then go fastest with a 1m 37.591 in the 37th minute. 

The regular FP1 lull then arrived as teams returned a set of softs, as Bottas soon regained the fastest time with a 1m 36.957 on mediums, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was 0.535s slower but ahead of Hamilton by 0.099s. 

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Daniel Ricciardo then brought out a 13 minute red flag after his Renault power unit blew up at the end of a flier, resulting in him parking up opposite the pit lane as Pierre Gasly got oil all over his visor.

Once the session resumed, very few could improve on their best times as Sebastian Vettel brought the session to an early close with a spin into the barrier at Turn 19.

That brought out a second red flag with just two minutes left, leaving Bottas top from Verstappen and Hamilton, who had set their best times on soft tyres unlike the Finnish driver. 


Practice Two

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Valtteri Bottas once again topped Practice although this session would be the only representative session before qualifying and the race, making track time crucial for all teams. 

Bottas set the fastest lap of a 1m 36.256s on his first quali simulation to lead Hamilton by 0.310s, whilst Leclerc recovered from a spin on his first Quali flier to finish third and 0.386s off Bottas. 

Vettel meanwhile finished fourth and 0.435s slower after needing two Quali sims to set his best lap of a 1m 36.691, as Max Verstappen made a series of errors to wind up fifth but ahead of Alex Albon in sixth. 

The Dutchman however led after the early exchanges with a 1m 37.145s on mediums as teams opted to focus on the two harder compounds in the early stage of this session. 

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Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez and the two Toro Rosso cars of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly completed the top ten, with 0.169s separating them as the midfield battle looks very tight once again. 

Antonio Giovinazzi meanwhile was third slowest but nearly spun into the barrier like Vettel did in FP1, although he managed to regain control and carry on under his own power.

Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a power unit failure this morning to finish 16th with a 1m 38.400s on softs. 

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Teams then finished the session with the regular race simulation in which Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were matching each other, whilst both Ferrari drivers look evenly matched and could be contenders come Sunday if they don’t fight each other. 

Bottas is starting Sunday’s race at the back after a power unit change but managed to collide with Grosjean as he dived down the inside of Turn 11 during his race simulation, only for the Frenchman to turn in and both cars sustained damage as a consequence. 

That collision therefore brought out the red flag as marshals cleared the debris away, leaving the teams with a short simulation before the checkered flag fell.

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