RACE DEBRIEF

    Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in the second practice session of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while his championship rival Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull.

    After Verstappen topped FP1, Hamilton set the FP2 benchmark of 1m23.691s under the floodlights on soft tyres, with 25 minutes remaining, then switched to mediums for his race simulation.

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    That put Alpine's Esteban Ocon, who had shot up with a lap of 1m24.034s just before Hamilton, in second place by 0.343s – and Hamilton's team mate Valtteri Bottas third overall by a gap of 0.392s having previously drifted into the Turn 12 barriers on his medium-tyred laps. That slide saw him switch to soft tyres after just 15 minutes of the session.

    Red Bull therefore rounded out the top five, Verstappen (six-tenths down on Hamilton) P4 ahead of Sergio Perez in fifth. The championship contender had a competitive time of 1m24.989s chalked off early in the session during his medium-tyred runs, switched to softs for his qualifying simulations, before keeping softs on for his long runs.

    Alpine's Fernando Alonso underlined the team's solid pace by finishing sixth, eight-tenths off the top spot.

    FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2021

    Abu Dhabi 2021

    Practice 2 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:23.691
    2 Esteban Ocon OCO Alpine +0.343s
    3 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes +0.392s
    4 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.641s
    5 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing +0.709s

    AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda was next on the board, just off Alonso, in P7, while team mate Pierre Gasly was 10th overall. Between them were the Ferraris: Charles Leclerc eighth but three-tenths ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz in P9.

    Contrary to the other drivers, who started on mediums, McLaren's pair of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo began this session on soft tyres. Norris soon had to pit for a new front wing having picked up damage but continued on to finish 13th, his team mate Ricciardo 11th and two-tenths ahead.

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    Outgoing Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi took 12th, splitting the McLarens, while team mate Kimi Raikkonen, 16th, tainted his final F1 Friday practice of the year by spinning and crashing at Turn 14. He incurred heavy damage and a red flag was shown just after the chequered flag had flown.

    Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel took 14th ahead of team mate Lance Stroll in P15, the Canadian two-tenths off the German.

    FP2 Highlights: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    Nicholas Latifi spun at Turn 13 after 12 minutes, leaving the left side of his rear wing endplate hanging, and finished 18th overall. Williams team mate George Russell, who stepped aside for reserve driver Jack Aitken in FP1, returned to finish 17th in this session and just over a tenth ahead of Latifi.

    Mick Schumacher took P19 – nearly six-tenths ahead of his team mate – while Nikita Mazepin took P20 for Haas.

    After Verstappen went quickest in FP1, Hamilton has turned the tables and now we have a salivating shootout for pole on to look forward to on Saturday. Find out how to watch it here, and stay tuned to F1.com for live coverage and reaction.

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