Abu Dhabi, FP1: Verstappen tops first practice

At season-closing grand prix

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By Olivier Ferret

23 November 2018 - 11:34

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen topped the opening practice session of Formula 1’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beating team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by almost half a second.

Verstappen bolted on hypersoft tyres on an improving track in the second half of the session, to lead the way in the session with a time of 1:38.491 that left him 0.454s ahead of Ricciardo, who is this weekend competing in his final race for Red Bull ahead of a move to Renault.

The Red Bulls followed an opposite programme to Mercedes, who ran hypersofts early in the session and then cycled through ultrasoft evaluation before running the supersoft compound later in the 90-minutes available. That meant that Valtteri Bottas finished the session, as the only driver to get within a second of Verstappen’s pace, using supersoft tyres. Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton took fourth place, just under a tenth of a second further back.

With Ferrari also starting on the softest available compound and ending on the hardest, Esteban Ocon powered through to claim fifth spot on the timesheet, with Kevin Magnussen taking sixth. Racing Point Force India driver Ocon was just under sixth tenths behind Hamilton with Haas’ Magnussen a further 0.13s behind.

Kimi Räikkönen was the quickest of the Ferraris finishing 1.926 off Verstappen’s pace, with team-mate Sebastian Vettel in eighth place, 0.036s behind the Finn, who is racing for Ferrari for the final time this weekend before a 2019 switch to Sauber.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz put in a lap of 1:40.588 to take ninth place with a time 2.097s adrift of Verstappen and the final top 10 position was taken by Haas’s Romain Grosjean, who finished 0.075s behind Sainz.

Robert Kubica, who was yesterday confirmed as Williams race driver for 2019, propped up the timesheet, lapping 4.5s off the pace, though the Pole spent the session evaluating test items for 2019 rather than chasing lap time.

Pos.DriverTeamTimeLaps
01 Max Verstappen Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:38.491 27
02 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:38.945 19
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG 1:39.452 29
04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG 1:39.543 26
05 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:40.102 26
06 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:40.235 21
07 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:40.417 24
08 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:40.453 21
09 Carlos Sainz Renault F1 1:40.588 21
10 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:40.663 24
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda 1:40.671 17
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault F1 1:41.023 24
13 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:41.075 23
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Honda 1:41.137 26
15 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:41.493 22
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber Ferrari 1:41.662 24
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:41.928 22
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 1:42.114 22
19 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:42.313 16
20 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 1:42.992 26
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