Lewis Hamilton’s best lap of the hour was just 0.033s behind Verstappen’s P1 benchmark but was deleted for track limits infringement; Practice Two at 1pm live on Sky Sports F1 on opening day of Lewis v Max: Decider in the Desert
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 10/12/21 12: 48pm
Max Verstappen has started fastest at F1’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi GP after setting the pace in opening practice.
The Dutchman, who remains the world championship leader on countback of race wins, had pipped Lewis Hamilton by a miniscule 0.033s margin before the Mercedes driver’s quickest lap was deleted for a track limits infringement.
That shuffled Hamilton back behind Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to third, although his quicker effort that did not count has given early indication that another super-competitive weekend is in store with the big prize of the 2021 world title now on the line.
- Sky F1’s full live Abu Dhabi GP schedule
- Explained: Everything you need to know about the title showdown
- Special feature: The story of a remarkable season
The session was F1’s first around the revamped Yas Marina layout, which has been remodelled in three places to create a quicker lap and more opportunities for drivers to race wheel-to-wheel.
Verstappen’s quickest time of 1: 25.009 was 11 seconds faster than his pole position effort on the original longer layout last year.
Kimi Raikkonen, competing in the final Grand Prix of his illustrious career, was the first driver to christen the run-off area at the new long hairpin with a wild spin in his Alfa Romeo.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz also had spins, while others ran ran wide off track as they started to push the boundaries of the circuit on mainly the soft tyres.
Sergio Perez was fourth fastest in the second Red Bull ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
Practice Two starts at 1pm live on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Showcase. With Abu Dhabi four hours ahead of the UK, the second session takes place as the sun sets and takes place under floodlights amid slightly cooler conditions – the same time as Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race, making it a more representative session.
“The confidence in Lewis and Mercedes will be very high coming into this weekend but you can never count Max out, especially in qualifying,” said Sky F1’s Jenson Button in review of the opening session.
“As we’ve seen today, the last sector is very strong for Red Bull. But we’re on the edge of our seats – it’s been so close between these two.”
Abu Dhabi GP Practice One Timesheet
|1) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1: 25.009|
|2) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.196|
|3) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+0.346|
|4) Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+0.354|
|5) Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+0.369|
|6) Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+0.616|
|7) Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+0.813|
|8) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+0.837|
|9) Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+0.877|
|10) Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+0.998|
|11) Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+1.016|
|12) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.114|
|13) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1.180|
|14) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+1.400|
|15) Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+1.599|
|16) Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+1.667|
|17) Jack Aitken||Williams||+2.472|
|18) Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+2.478|
|19) Mick Schumacher||Haas||+2.689|
|20) Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+3.296|
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