Vettel shunt ends Abu Dhabi FP1 early; Bottas fastest

Image by Zak Mauger/LAT

Vettel shunt ends Abu Dhabi FP1 early; Bottas fastest

Formula 1

Vettel shunt ends Abu Dhabi FP1 early; Bottas fastest


A crash for Sebastian Vettel at the end of FP1 ended first practice early as Valtteri Bottas set the pace at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Vettel lost control at Turn 19 as he exited from underneath the hotel section, spinning and hitting the barrier with his left-rear corner. The suspension appeared to break on the first impact, with Vettel then rolling back into the barrier again and not being able to move the car.

The incident caused the session to end only a few minutes before the checkered flag, and left Bottas — who will have to start the race from the back of the grid — half a second clear of Max Verstappen.

Bottas will start from the back on Sunday due to a the power unit problem that he suffered in Brazil, which has required him to take fresh engine components this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton was third — 0.6s off his teammate — despite a sensor issue that sent his car into limp home mode earlier in the session. Hamilton also ran the number one on his car for the first part of the session before switching back to his usual race number of 44.

Vettel’s crash was the second stoppage, following an earlier issue for Daniel Ricciardo. There was a red flag with half an hour remaining when Ricciardo’s engine appeared to let go in the final sector, with the Renault driver stopping on the outside of the final corner. The failure led to flames coming from the back of Ricciardo’s car while he also deposited oil all over the track, with Pierre Gasly and Bottas — who were following directly behind — both sliding off the track on the slippery surface.

Renault soon confirmed an engine failure was to blame for Ricciardo’s problem, with a high-mileage engine at the end of the season being run to the end of its life in Friday practice before being replaced for the rest of the weekend.

Ricciardo finished 19th overall ahead of only George Russell, while Vettel’s crash left the Ferrari driver 1.9s adrift in fifth place behind Alex Albon.

Romain Grosjean was sixth for Haas, over two seconds off the pace, while Charles Leclerc did not set a representative time as he finished seventh in the second Ferrari. Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10 in a session that has little bearing on the rest of the weekend as it takes place in full daylight compared to sunset times for FP2, qualifying and the race.