Abu Dhabi GP: Max fastest in FP1, Hamilton fifth

Max Verstappen’s season finale got off to a great start after topping the timesheet in free practice one for the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver set a best time of 1m37.378s to end the session fastest of all, just 0.034s ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, but not much can be read into the laptimes, with qualifying and the race due to be held in considerably different conditions.

Esteban Ocon had an impressive session ending up third fastest, but he was over a second off the pace in his Renault, while the second Red Bull of Alex Albon was 0.03s further back in fourth.

Lewis Hamilton ended up fifth fastest but had a disruptive start to his Friday. The world champion had a brake issue in the early stages, resulting in the team having to change the master cylinder.

That repair took 20 minutes to complete, meaning Hamilton was able to get out for the final 45 minutes of the session, but it cost him valuable time in getting back up to speed, having missed the Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19.

Racing Point were line astern in sixth and seventh, with Lance Stroll heading off team-mate Sergio Perez by just over a tenth of a second, while AlphaTauri ended up eighth and ninth, with Daniil Kvyat the faster of their two drivers.

George Russell, who returns to Williams for this weekend, having competed for Mercedes last week, ended up 16th fastest, six tenths of a second faster than his team-mate Nicholas Latifi in 17th.

And, the newly-crowned Formula 2 champion, Mick Schumacher, made his F1 practice debut with Haas, finishing 18th fastest, ahead of his team-mate for the session, Pietro Fittipaldi.

Fittipaldi had a difficult session, ending up over six and a half seconds off the pace and he will be looking for a big improvement going into FP2.

Daniel Ricciardo was the only driver who failed to set a time in the session. He pulled off to the side of the circuit early on having suffered a fuel pressure issue on his Renault RS20.