F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Verstappen heads Russell in FP2

Max Verstappen beat George Russell and Charles Leclerc as Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes split the top times in practice for Formula 1’s 2022 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Verstappen heads Russell in FP2

Lewis Hamilton took fourth in FP2, where all the regular 2022 drivers were at the wheels of their machines after seven made way for eight young or reserve drivers in FP1.

For the only one-hour practice session that runs in comparable temperatures to qualifying and the race, Guanyu Zhou and Sebastian Vettel led the pack out of the pits – with the early running completed on the medium and hard tyres, the majority of the drivers using the yellow-walled mediums.

Vettel passed Zhou on their outlaps and duly established the first place benchmark at 1m28.120s using the mediums, which Valtteri Bottas then beat with his first lap on the hards – a 1m27.717s.

Leclerc then forged ahead on a 1m26.645s, which stood as the quickest time until just over a quarter of the session had been completed, at which point Verstappen moved ahead on a 1m25.449s using the softs.

Nearly 10 minutes later, the world champion went for a second run on the softs and improved the top time to a 1m25.335s – at which point his rivals began to trickle out using the same compound that will be critical for setting the grid on Saturday.

Sergio Perez slotted in behind his Red Bull team-mate in second, but was just over half a second down having lost 0.3s of that in the final sector.

Carlos Sainz had to abandon his first lap on the softs after coming across a Haas car running slowly on the racing line ahead of the Turn 9 long left-hand hairpin at the top end of the Yas Marina track.

Although he was able to get another run in on the softs, Sainz ended up as the slowest of the top runners in sixth – 0.786s off the top spot.

George Russell, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Running behind his team-mate but without a traffic problem, Leclerc used his first go on the softs to shade Perez and run 0.264s adrift of Verstappen, before the two Mercedes took to the track on the softs just past the halfway point.

Russell, despite a oversteer snap out of the long, downhill Turn 5 left-hand hairpin at the bottom end of the circuit and having to jink through traffic in the final turns, moved ahead of Leclerc with a 1m25.487s.

Next came Hamilton, who had had to abandon his first lap on the mediums early in the session after remaining in his garage for the opening 10 minutes as Kevin Magnussen was running slowly on the racing.

Hamilton set the session’s quickest time in the opening sector on his qualifying simulation run on the softs and matched Verstappen to the end of the second sector, but lost a big chunk in the final sector and wound up behind Leclerc.

After this, Verstappen, who had been in the pits for the previous 15 minutes, re-emerged on another set of softs to go for another flier with just over a third of the session remaining.

Verstappen could not topple Hamilton in the opening sector, but did go quicker than his own established quicker time in the middle sector.

He lost time in the final third compared to his personal best, but nevertheless set the session’s fastest time on a 1m15.146s.

This meant his final advantages over Russell, Leclerc and Hamilton were 0.341s, 0.453s and 0.615s.

Perez ended up 0.706s slower than Verstappen, as he was not able to improve his personal best despite getting a final qualifying sim at the same time as his team-mate.

The rest of the session was dedicated to the typical FP2 race-data long running, which included a notable practice pitstop for Sainz as he got the green light to exit his pitbox while a Ferrari mechanic still had his hands on the newly fitted right front.

Sainz stopped just past his pitbox and radioed his team to ask if the mechanic was ok, which Ferrari confirmed they were.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

The long runs also contained worrying data for Ferrari, as it suggested the red team is so far significantly off the pace in terms of race pace compared to Red Bull, which led the way on the medium tyres with Verstappen.

Leclerc at one point even asked his team “why are we slow?”, which was given a reply of: “Our pace is not great compared to the others”.

Behind the drivers from the top three squads on ultimate pace came Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso from Alpine, which is aiming to secure fourth in the constructors’ championship ahead of McLaren.

But the orange team did have Daniel Ricciardo slot in just under a tenth slower than Alonso’s best – in what was an eventful session for the Australian.

He had to save a big snap through the rapid Turn 3 right on his opening lap on the mediums, before noting that his team’s pitbox includes a slippery patch of new concrete that meant he slid long past his marks at one point in the early running.

Valtteri Bottas closed out the top 10 ahead of Lando Norris and Vettel, whose final F1 FP2 session included a big lock-up and slide into the Turn 6 runoff between the track’s main straights during his qualifying simulation running in the session’s middle phase.

F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Full FP2 results

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 25 1'25.146  
2 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes 27 1'25.487 0.341
3 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 30 1'25.599 0.453
4 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22 1'25.761 0.615
5 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 26 1'25.852 0.706
6 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari 31 1'25.932 0.786
7 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 28 1'26.038 0.892
8 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 29 1'26.043 0.897
9 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 14 1'26.124 0.978
10 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 29 1'26.300 1.154
11 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 28 1'26.377 1.231
12 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 28 1'26.395 1.249
13 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 30 1'26.479 1.333
14 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 27 1'26.547 1.401
15 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 30 1'26.680 1.534
16 Thailand Alex Albon Williams 29 1'26.750 1.604
17 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 26 1'26.839 1.693
18 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 25 1'26.915 1.769
19 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 29 1'27.036 1.890
20 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 30 1'27.262 2.116
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