Hamilton takes charge in second Abu Dhabi GP practice

Charles Coates/Motorsport Images

Hamilton takes charge in second Abu Dhabi GP practice

Formula 1

Hamilton takes charge in second Abu Dhabi GP practice

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Lewis Hamilton laid down the gauntlet in the second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while title rival Max Verstappen — who led the way in the opening session — trailed off the pace.

Mercedes’ Hamilton spent the hour lowering the benchmark, first on the medium tires and later on the softs for his qualifying simulation run as the sun set and the track cooled. After a false start with a lock-up, he embarked on his ultimate lap, lowering the benchmark to 1m23.691s, which stood until the end of the session.

The practice session was red flagged as the clock expired when Kimi Raikkonen endured a heavy smash through Turn 13 exiting the hotel section of the track. The Finn, who is entering his final Formula 1 grand prix this weekend, lost the rear of his Alfa Romeo as he navigated the off-camber turn, smacking into the barriers rear first before rotating sideways, dealing his car substantial damage and ensuring a long night for his mechanics.

With Raikkonen hauling himself from the car unscathed, the crash wasn’t enough to distract from Verstappen’s struggles through the hour. The Dutchman was around 0.2s off the pace on the medium tire and struggled to get close on the soft, ending the day 0.641s adrift of Hamilton and languishing in fourth.

The Red Bull driver then diverged from Mercedes’s run plan, sticking with the soft compound for his race simulation run rather than the medium, which would be the preferred start tire for a one-stop strategy.

Between the title rivals slipped Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who was a surprising second and 0.343s off Hamilton’s pace, quick enough to edge the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas by 0.049s. The Finn had a brush with the Turn 13 barrier similar to his compatriot, sliding right-rear-first into the wall on an early lap but without enough force to do anything more than some superficial damage.

Sergio Perez backed up his Red Bull Racing teammate in fifth just less than 0.1s off Verstappen’s pace, but he was less than 0.1s up on Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

Yuki Tsunoda ended the evening seventh ahead of Ferrari teammates Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly.

Daniel Ricciardo was the quickest McLaren in 11th, the Australian 1.2s off the pace and less than 0.2s quicker than Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and the fractionally slower Lando Norris.

Aston Martin pair Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll were 15th ahead of the crashed Raikkonen. Williams teammates George Russell and Nicholas Latifi and Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin completed the order.

 

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