Vettel fastest in FP1 in Abu Dhabi

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, United States Grand Prix
© XPB 

Sebastian Vettel kicked off the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend by topping the event's first free practice, edging out Lewis Hamilton by just over a tenth of a second.

Only 0.148s  separated the top three drivers, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen in third, a tight spread which bodes well for the remainder of the weekend.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Free Practice 1 results

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:39.006s 23
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.126s + 0.120s 25
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:39.154s + 0.148s 15
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:39.518s + 0.512s 22
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:39.741s + 0.735s 30
6 Sergio Pérez Force India 1:40.293s + 1.287s 24
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:40.522s + 1.516s 20
8 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:40.569s + 1.563s 15
9 Felipe Massa Williams 1:40.723s + 1.717s 27
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:40.773s + 1.767s 29
11 George Russell Force India 1:41.131s + 2.125s 26
12 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:41.306s + 2.300s 24
13 Lance Stroll Williams 1:41.581s + 2.575s 27
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:41.646s + 2.640s 29
15 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:41.748s + 2.742s 23
16 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:41.752s + 2.746s 26
17 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:41.864s + 2.858s 26
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Haas 1:42.065s + 3.059s 21
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:42.344s + 3.338s 28
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:42.585s + 3.579s 35

Whether it be drivers or bits and pieces, Friday's first practice session saw most teams test and trial as the 90-minute daytime run at Yas Marina is typically conducted in conditions which are very different than those which shall prevail in qualifying and in the race.

Two driver changes were noted at the outset, with George Russell standing in for Esteban Ocon at Force India, while Antonio Giovinazzi was on duty at Haas, standing in for Kevin Magnussen.

Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley, a man who has been plagued with reliability issues since his arrival in F1, was the first driver to take to the track.

Kimi Raikkonen pulled out of the Ferrari garage with his car sporting an array of sensors, while 2017 world champion Lewis Hamilton was seen wearing brand new gold lid.

Meanwhile, Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas put himself at the top of the timesheet early on with both Silver Arrows putting in some good mileage at the ouset.

McLaren - which endures its final race with Honda this weekend - put Fernando Alonso on a testing programme, with the Spaniard limited to the odd exploratory lap and failing to set a proper time in the session's first hour. When he did string together a few laps, he put himself immediately in the top ten.

In the Red Bull camp, Max Verstappen bolted on a set of purple ultrasofts in an attempt to join the Mercedes-Ferrari battle, which he promptly succeeded in doing by placing himself P2, right behind Hamilton.

Both Nico Hulkenberg and Giovinazzi briefly brought out the yellow flags when both drivers found themselves facing the wrong way on the track, in separate incidents.

Romain Grosjean also slipped off the track to bring out a third yellow, the Haas driver tagging the barriers at Turn 19 but without too much damage.

Twenty minutes from the end of the session, Sebastian Vettel vaulted to the top with a 1m39.006, just one tenth ahead of Hamilton, and FP1 concluded with the German fastest remaining there.

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