Valtteri Bottas was in command of the opening day’s running at the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after topping both sessions.
The Mercedes driver went half a second faster than Max Verstappen in the opening session, before ending Practice 2 three tenths up on Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas chalked up 52 laps across the two sessions ending the day with a best of 1:36.256s.
His Mercedes team-mate was second fastest for the day after conditions improved in the second 90 minute hit-out, though only narrowly over Charles Leclerc.
Just over half a tenth split the duo, Leclerc’s 1:36.642s a slender 0.076s slower than the world champion-elect.
However, it was far from plain sailing for Bottas after he clashed with Romain Grosjean in Practice 2, officials deeming the Finn at fault.
Looking to dive underneath the Haas driver at the end of the second long straight making contact as Grosjean attempted to make the corner.
According to stewards, “Valtteri accepted responsibility for the collision and acknowledged that it was a failed attempt at an overtake which resulted in the collision”.
Stewards elected to hand Bottas his first reprimand of the 2019 season while much of Grosjean’s Friday work was put to waste as his car will change spec in order to effect repairs.
It made for an eventful opening day at the Yas Marina circuit which also saw Sebastian Vettel crash out of opening practice and Daniel Ricciardo suffer an engine failure.
The Australian’s engine cried enough after an hour of Practice 1, halting proceedings for 10 minutes when his car detonated.
Though pulling off the road immediately, it left a trail of oil, and debris, that forced a mid-session clean up.
Down on pace, Vettel’s opening session ended against the wall at Turn 19, the 90 degree left hander exiting the hotel.
The Ferrari driver lost the back end of his car and was pitched into the fence in the closing minutes of the session which he ended fifth, 1.9 seconds off Bottas’ pace.
In Practice 1, behind pace setters Bottas and Verstappen, Hamilton was third from Alex Albon (Red Bull), then Vettel, Grosjean, Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault).
Times condensed in Practice 2, with the top five covered by a second versus only the top three in Practice 1.
Trailing Bottas, Hamilton, and Leclerc in that session were Vettel, Verstappen, Albon, Grosjean, Sergio Perez (Racing Point), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso), and Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso).
Ricciardo set a best of 1:38.400s which was good enough for just 16th, following on from his shortened opening session that left him 19th.
Practice in Abu Dhabi continues at 2100 AEDT Saturday evening with qualifying following at midnight.
Results: Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice 2
|5||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||01:36.807||+0.551s|
|6||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||01:37.288||+1.032s|
|7||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||01:37.601||+1.345s|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||01:37.637||+1.381s|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||01:37.651||+1.395s|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||01:37.770||+1.514s|
|11||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||01:37.834||+1.578s|
|12||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||01:37.918||+1.662s|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||01:37.985||+1.729s|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||01:38.080||+1.824s|
|17||7||Kimi Raikkonen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||01:38.415||+2.159s|
|18||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||01:38.464||+2.208s|
|19||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||01:39.512||+3.256s|
|20||88||Robert Kubica||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||01:40.455||+4.199s|
Results: Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice 1
|2||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||01:37.492||+0.535s|
|4||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||01:38.084||+1.127s|
|6||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||01:39.146||+2.189s|
|8||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||01:39.350||+2.393s|
|9||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||01:39.423||+2.466s|
|11||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||01:39.628||+2.671s|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||01:39.864||+2.907s|
|13||7||Kimi Raikkonen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||01:39.888||+2.931s|
|14||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||01:39.901||+2.944s|
|15||26||Daniil Kvyat||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||01:39.969||+3.012s|
|16||10||Pierre Gasly||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||01:40.401||+3.444s|
|17||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||01:40.687||+3.730s|
|18||88||Robert Kubica||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||01:40.792||+3.835s|
|20||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||01:41.362||+4.405s|