Valtteri Bottas led a 1-2 for Mercedes during Friday evening’s second practice session for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Bottas clocked a 1:36.276s to finish 0.203s clear of World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who returned to action on Friday, having missed the Sakhir round due to testing positive for Covid-19.
Neither Mercedes driver set their permitted fastest lap time on Soft tyres.
Bottas erred on his Soft run while Hamilton set a time of 1:36.097, briefly putting him top, but the effort was erased after he was deemed to have exceeded track limits at Turn 21.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also failed to record a quick time on the Soft rubber.
Verstappen was 0.025s down on Bottas’ benchmark after the second sector but encountered traffic through the remainder of the lap and had to back off.
Verstappen consequently finished 0.770s behind Bottas in third place.
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, 0.987s down on Bottas, was fourth overall, as Formula 1’s leading pair of teams finished clear of the rest.
Norris heads tightly-contested midfield
The battle for third position in Formula 1’s Constructors’ Championship has ebbed and flowed throughout the season between Racing Point, McLaren and Renault, with Ferrari outsiders in the mix.
Lando Norris was fifth for McLaren, in front of Renault’s Esteban Ocon, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, and the AlphaTauris of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly, split by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, were next up.
Less than two-tenths of a second separated Norris in fifth from team-mate Sainz in 12th spot, while only 0.003s covered Ocon, Perez, Leclerc and Ricciardo – the latter duo clocking identical times.
Raikkonen fire halts session
The second 90-minute session was largely uneventful in terms of action but both George Russell and Kimi Raikkonen encountered power unit issues during the final half hour.
Russell returned to the pit lane with a suspected MGU-K issue but moments later the session was halted when smoke, and then fire, emerged from the rear of Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo C39.
Raikkonen parked the car out of harm’s way, utilising an unused stretch of an alternative layout along the back straight, while marshals extinguished the large fire.
Raikkonen’s fire wrecked an otherwise encouraging day for Alfa Romeo, having classified 14th, atop the backmarker battle, and in front of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Russell was 18th upon his return to Williams following last weekend’s heroics with Mercedes, behind outgoing Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi.
Rookies Pietro Fittipaldi and Nicholas Latifi brought up the rear of the 20-car field.
Teams looking to 2021
Drivers carried out runs on Pirelli’s 2021-specification C4 tyre during the early stages of the session as work for next season continued.
It followed on from previous tyre tests in Portugal and Bahrain, after which drivers were largely negative over the updated construction.
Teams also carried out further 2021 evaluations on Friday with some teams trialling revised floors in order to comply with next year’s modified regulations.
Saturday’s final practice session is scheduled for 13:00 local time.
|3||M. VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull||1:37.046||+0.770||30|
|4||A. ALBON||Red Bull||1:37.263||+0.987||33|
|7||S. PEREZ||Racing Point||1:37.506||+1.230||35|
|10||L. STROLL||Racing Point||1:37.560||+1.284||29|
|14||K. RAIKKONEN||Alfa Romeo||1:38.068||+1.792||28|
|17||A. GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo||1:38.564||+2.288||31|