Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time of second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but went on to cause a strange collision with Romain Grosjean later in the session.
The Finn — also quickest in FP1 — was already at the top of the timings from the low fuel laps when he was carrying out race running and attempted to dive down the inside of the Haas from a long way back into Turn 11. Grosjean understandably turned in as the Mercedes had been a long way back on the straight, and the pair collided, causing both to spin and damaging both cars.
Grosjean reacted angrily over team radio while Bottas said the Frenchman left him no space, but the lunge came from far back and it was unreasonable for Grosjean to be expecting such a move.
Both drivers were able to return to the pits under ether own power for repairs while the session was red flagged to clear the debris. Bottas even managed to return to the track with a new front wing, but Grosjean’s running was over.
The incident is likely to be investigated, although Bottas is already due to start the race from the back of the grid due to power unit penalties. Bottas was also informed he had a leak on his in-lap after the checkered flag.
Bottas wasn’t the only front-runner to be involved in an incident, with Charles Leclerc hitting the wall at Turn 19. Sebastian Vettel had spun and crashed at the same corner in FP1, and Leclerc then overcorrected some oversteer and tapped the barrier with the right-hand side of his car. He was able to rejoin after checks to his car and a tire change.
Leclerc ended up third behind the two Mercedes drivers — Bottas leading Lewis Hamilton by 0.3s — while Vettel was fourth and Max Verstappen fifth as the top five were covered by a little over half a second. Alex Albon was sixth but a second off the pace, with Grosjean seventh ahead of Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly.
The McLaren pair of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were just 0.1s outside the top 10, just ahead of Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen. Then it was a case of two-by-two as the Renaults, Alfa Romeos and Williams came in order. Daniel Ricciardo was nearly 0.3s slower than Nico Hulkenberg after switching to his race engine following a failure in FP1, ending up ahead of both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi by just 0.064s.
Giovinazzi followed Leclerc’s incident at Turn 19 with a spin at the same corner, somehow avoiding contact with the barrier as he swapped ends before reversing and returning to the pits.