Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi first practice

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Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi first practice

Formula 1

Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi first practice


Lewis Hamilton led teammate George Russell in a Mercedes one-two in opening practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Both drivers surged on soft tires to take the top two spots with around 15 minutes remaining, with Hamilton 0.22s ahead of Russell.

Charles Leclerc was a close third, 0.035s adrift in his Ferrari, while Sergio Perez was 0.334s off the pace for Red Bull.

First practice in Abu Dhabi is run in mid-afternoon conditions, making it unrepresentative of the night-time qualifying and the twilight grand prix. Reading too much into the times is ill-advised given the track will be significantly cooler than the 113 degrees Fahrenheit it was during the first hour-long session.

That’s particularly the case given seven drivers were substituted by reserves, six of whom were rookies sent out to fulfil the regulations to field young drivers through throughout the year.

Liam Lawson was the most impressive among them, the F2 Red Bull rookie taking Max Verstappen’s car to fifth and just 0.234s slower than teammate Perez. The Kiwi complained that the car was quick to overuse its front tires, which were overheating before the end of his fast laps.

The retiring Sebastian Vettel slotted into sixth ahead of Ferrari’s Robert Shwartzman, standing in for Carlos Sainz. The Israeli driver was 0.541 slower than Leclerc after 24 laps.

Daniel Ricciardo left his soft tun late after a long opening stint on hards to move up to eighth and 0.986s off the pace.

Valtteri Bottas was ninth for Alfa Romeo ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon.

Pierre Gasly was 11th for AlphaTauri ahead of Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese driver complained of a lack of grip on the warm track with he medium-compound tire, with which he ended the session.

Alfa Romeo reserve driver Robert Kubica was 14th, the veteran pole taking the wheel of Zhou Guanyu’s car as part of the team’s preparations for 2023.

Logan Sargeant had a relatively eventful session for Williams. The American completed 23 laps, picking up a bonus superlicence points for breaking the 100-kilometer (62-mile) threshold, but came perilously close to putting his car in the wall at turn 1 part of the way through.

The Floridian locked his rear axle thundering down to the first braking zone and spun 360 degrees, bringing his car to a halt inches from the wall.

He was able to continue, but his tires were shot, and he was forced to pit.

Kevin Magnussen led Haas reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi, the pair 1.5s off the pace.

McLaren IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward commandeered Lando Norris’s papaya F1 car for his first grand prix weekend session, finishing 18th despite an early-session gearbox scare. He came home ahead of Alpine junior Jack Doohan, who battled an overheating engine, and Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich, who took over Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin.