RACE DEBRIEF

    Lewis Hamilton and George Russell suffered contrasting Fridays in Abu Dhabi with the seven-time world champion less than happy with how practice panned out.

    Hamilton sat out FP1 – as rookie driver Frederik Vesti took the reigns of his W14 – but returned for the evening session. He wound up eighth fastest after a couple of scruffy laps in an incident packed hour which saw two red flags.

    FP2: Leclerc leads as Sainz and Hulkenberg crash out in incident hampered second practice in Abu Dhabi

    After jumping out of the cockpit, Hamilton was asked whether he was happy with his Friday. “Not particularly,” he said. “It was not the greatest of days. I think I only got like four timed laps really.

    “So that’s not a lot in a day in terms of your knowledge of the car and the track. But the car doesn’t feel bad, I think we were not in a terrible place, I just hope I get some more running tomorrow.”

    Based on his limited running, the seven-time world champion was also asked whether he felt he could be battling for higher positions in Q3. He said: “At the moment no. I’m just going to try and see if there is way to get into Q3.

    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 24: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44)
    Hamilton had limited running on Friday after sitting out FP1 and returning for the second practice session

    “We’ve had difficult qualifying sessions and getting out of Q1 into Q2 has always been a tough battle. Even just getting into Q3 is a challenge. The work tomorrow morning is just going to have to be about making sure we can get into Q3.

    “I think it’s going to be close. I think George is looking good, he might be in a better place, but he didn’t miss FP1. Nonetheless, I’m not going to make any excuses I’m just going to try and get on it tomorrow.”

    READ MORE: Horner details contact with Hamilton’s dad but denies ‘serious discussion’ over Red Bull move

    Russell had been the fastest driver in FP1 and he followed that up by going sixth fastest in the second hour of running, just over three-tenths off pace-setter Charles Leclerc.

    “A pretty positive Friday I must say,” said Russell. “Obviously in FP1 a lot of young drivers in the car so difficult to gauge where the pace of the car was at, [and] FP2 [was] very interrupted. But I felt happy, I felt good out there.

    2023 Abu Dhabi GP FP2: Verstappen barges past Mercedes duo in pit lane tunnel

    “The long run pace seemed good which was the most important. I think it is going to be close out there with the likes of Lando [Norris] and maybe Charles. We always know obviously Red Bull have a little bit more in their pocket. So, I’m excited going into tomorrow.”

    There was a moment of concern for Russell early on in the first practice session when he complained of not being able to turn the wheel. However, he revealed the cause of the momentary scare.

    READ MORE: ‘We have a lot to figure out’ – Verstappen left searching for answers after Friday practice in Abu Dhabi

    “[It’s a] big secret,” joked Russell. “We are just trying a few little bits and bobs on the car that we have tried over a number of races.

    "It was just having a slightly different effect here in Abu Dhabi than at the previous races, so just feeding back to the team. But all good.”