Lewis Hamilton beat Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg to the fastest time in first practice for the Formula 1 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Reigning world champion Hamilton, who trails Rosberg by 12 points with 25 still available, put in a 1m42.869s on the Pirelli soft compound tires to finish 0.374 seconds ahead of his teammate.
Red Bull was the closet challenger, with Max Verstappen half a tenth adrift of Rosberg in third and Daniel Ricciardo fourth.
Mercedes ran the ultra-soft tires early in the session, with Rosberg holding the early edge before being usurped by Hamilton, who then had a low-key spin at the Turn 5-6 complex. Hamilton moved to the soft tires and went slightly quicker to extend his lead at the top and remain unchallenged for the remainder of the session.
Teams were limited with what they could learn in first practice as the session takes place in afternoon daylight conditions while qualifying and the race are run under floodlights.
Track evolution delivered a confusing picture, with Hamilton faster on the ultra-soft and the soft while Rosberg was on a similar pace on each compound.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel – who ran the halo cockpit protection device for his opening 11 laps – was fifth quickest, 1.136s off the pace.
Sergio Perez was the leading Force India in sixth, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Felipe Massa, competing in his 250th and final F1 race weekend, and Marcus Ericsson, on the super-soft, completed the top 10.
Alfonso Celis Jr., standing in for Nico Hulkenberg, was 11th quickest, 1.4s slower than Perez, with Romain Grosjean 12th.
Grosjean was unhappy with his Haas, reporting he lost the car three times on left-handers before a spin at Turn 1, which damaged his tires and ended his session early.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was bottom of the times after completing just four laps having had his running cut short when he picked up a left-rear puncture and had to park on track.
Jordan King finished 21st quickest, 1.1s slower than regular Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein, on his second F1 practice outing.
PRACTICE ONE TIMES:
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m43.297ss||0.428s||26|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m43.362ss||0.493s||27|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m44.155ss||1.286s||23|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m44.685ss||1.816s||21|
|11||Alfonso Celis||Force India/Mercedes||1m45.476ss||2.607s||26|
|22||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||2m01.989ss||19.120s||4|