Bottas sets pace as McLaren hits trouble

Valtteri Bottas topped the times at Abu Dhabi

Valtteri Bottas topped the times at Abu Dhabi

Valtteri Bottas set the pace in the opening day of the season ending Abu Dhabi test while McLaren’s Honda powered development car completed just three laps.

The Williams driver dominated the session initially topping the times following an early run on super soft tyres before going even quicker in the closing stages.

The Finn’s 1:43.396s effort proved to be almost half a second quicker than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was watched by new team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the squad’s garage.

However, it was McLaren who grabbed the headlines as a number of issues restricted reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne to just three laps behind the wheel of the squad’s Honda powered development car.

Electrical issues prompted the team to sit out the morning running as engineers went through a serious of system checks.

Once the car appeared Vandoorne could only complete an installation lap before returning to the pits.

The Belgian returned to the track later in the afternoon only to cause a red flag when he stopped on track with two hours of running remaining.

McLaren suffered a troubled day at Abu Dhabi

McLaren suffered a troubled day at Abu Dhabi

The McLaren came out for one final lap before pulling back into the garage.

Vandoorne attributed the limited running to a fuel data-logging issue while also confirming he had been unable to use the Honda engine at full power.

“We’d hoped to get a few more laps under our belts, but we had a fuel data-logging issue that stopped the car a couple of times,” said Vandoorne.

“However, the team is already analysing the situation and we’ll hopefully cure it ahead of tomorrow.

“Nevertheless, it’s been a very positive day for us. At this stage of development, any lap we complete has a benefit – and it’s better to be solving these initial teething problems in November rather than in Jerez next February.”

Elsewhere, Mercedes Nico Rosberg completed 114 laps with his best time 1.1s adrift of Bottas.

GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer was fourth fastest on his F1 debut with Force India despite being limited to 37 laps after an engine problem.

Red Bull Racing’s Carlos Sainz Jr recorded 100 laps for the Milton Keynes outfit in fifth ahead of the Caterham of Will Stevens in sixth.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen ended the day in ninth position after suffering a crash in the morning hit out.

Daniel Ricciardo will jump behind the wheel for Red Bull for the final day of the test. He will be joined by countryman Spike Goddard, who will make his F1 debut with Force India.

See below for practice times on day 1 of Abu Dhabi test

1

Valtteri Bottas

Williams

1:43.396s

80

2

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

1:43.888

81

3

Nico Rosberg

Mercedes

1:44.512

114

4

Jolyon Palmer

Force India

1:44.516

37

5

Carlos Sainz jr

Red Bull

1:45.339

100

6

Will Stevens

Caterham

1:45.436

102

7

Charles Pic

Lotus

1:46.167

89

8

Marcus Ericsson

Sauber

1:46.487

95

9

Max Verstappen

Toro Rosso

1:47.194

55

10

Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren

No time

3

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