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F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 in opening practice

Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes to a 1-2 finish in the first Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as seven young drivers featured in the session.

 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar

Five days after Mercedes ended its win drought in 2022 with victory in Brazil, the silver cars once again rose to the head of the running order during the daytime practice at the Yas Marina Circuit.

The early part of the session featured Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc - who go head-to-head for second place in the championship this week - trading fastest lap times on the soft compound tyre.

While the likes of Alex Albon and Valtteri Bottas briefly occupied P1 on their soft tyre runs, it was Leclerc who pulled seven-hundredths of a second clear of Perez at the top with 20 minutes remaining in the session.

But Mercedes gave Hamilton and Russell a chance to put in an effort on the soft compound tyre with 15 minutes remaining, allowing both drivers to shoot up the order.

Hamilton put in a fastest lap time of 1m26.633s to take top spot in opening practice, with Russell taking P2 moment later, lapping 0.220s off his team-mate’s effort.

Although it was a positive first indication for Mercedes in Abu Dhabi, both qualifying and the race will start three hours later than FP1 did, meaning conditions will be vastly different at dusk and into the night.

Leclerc and Perez were left to settle for third and fourth place respectively, while Liam Lawson finished as the top young driver in the session with P5 for Red Bull.

Lawson was one of seven youngsters taking part in FP1 as teams completed their rookie driver requirement for practice sessions this year, giving an opportunity to those with two grand prix starts or less.

The Kiwi put in some impressive times on the hard compound tyre in the early part of the session before rising up to fifth on softs late on, with the only minor issue coming when he turned into his pit box and required a push after narrowly overshooting the turn-in angle. Lawson told Red Bull over the team he was used to driving further down the pit lane.

Sebastian Vettel took sixth place for Aston Martin in his final FP1 session as an F1 driver. Before getting into the cockpit, he was greeted by his father, Norbert, in the garage, and presented with his first racing gloves and race suit from when he was a child.

Robert Shwartzman finished seventh for Ferrari in his second FP1 outing of the season for the team, while Daniel Ricciardo slotted into eighth place for McLaren. Bottas and Albon rounded out the top 10 after being shuffled down the order following their earlier efforts.

AlphaTauri drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda finished 11th and 13th respectively in FP1, split by Gasly’s future Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon in 12th. Robert Kubica made his fourth FP1 appearance of the year for Alfa Romeo, finishing 14th in place of Zhou Guanyu.

Logan Sargeant took another step towards gaining his FIA superlicence by racking up the 100km required through the session for Williams, finishing 15th overall. Sargeant narrowly avoided ending his session early when he spun out at Turn 1, stopping just short of the barrier before getting going again.

Kevin Magnussen finished 16th for Haas ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi, the team’s reserve driver, who faced criticism for Gasly after darting between the AlphaTauris on the back straight.

McLaren IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward made his F1 race weekend debut, taking over from Lando Norris in the MCL36. But the session did not start as planned for the Mexican, who reported an issue on his outlap and was told to return to the pits in second gear at slow speed.

McLaren managed to rectify the issue, allowing O’Ward to get back on-track 20 minutes later. He ultimately racked up 22 laps en route to 18th place.

Formula 2 race winners Jack Doohan and Felipe Drugovich rounded out the pecking order for Alpine and Aston Martin respectively. It marked the first FP1 outing for Drugovich, who ended his session 1.3 seconds off Vettel’s time in the sister car.

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix free practice 1 results

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 1'26.633  
2 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 1'26.853 0.220
3 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 1'26.888 0.255
4 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 1'26.967 0.334
5 New Zealand Liam Lawson Red Bull Red Bull 1'27.201 0.568
6 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes 1'27.268 0.635
7 Russian Federation Robert Shwartzman Ferrari Ferrari 1'27.429 0.796
8 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 1'27.619 0.986
9 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'27.655 1.022
10 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 1'27.840 1.207
11 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'27.845 1.212
12 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1'27.891 1.258
13 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'27.991 1.358
14 Poland Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'28.064 1.431
15 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 1'28.098 1.465
16 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1'28.142 1.509
17 Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi Haas Ferrari 1'28.204 1.571
18 Mexico Patricio O'Ward McLaren Mercedes 1'28.350 1.717
19 Australia Jack Doohan Alpine Renault 1'28.484 1.851
20 Brazil Felipe Drugovich Aston Martin Mercedes 1'28.672 2.039

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