What the teams said - Friday in Abu Dhabi
Bottas, with his raft of new engine components, topped both sessions and looks to have more pace in the bag. He did ride his luck at times, nearly losing the rear in the tricky Turn 19. But eventually his luck ran out and he collided with Grosjean's Haas as he attempted to overtake the Frenchman towards the end of FP2, sending them both into a spin. As for Hamilton, he had a sensor issue in first practice, and problems downshifting in second practice but still looked solidly quick when he was able to piece together a clean flying lap.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:37.591, P3; FP2: 1:36.566, P2
"It's been a bit of an usual Friday for me; I was struggling to get into the rhythm today, but you have your good and bad days. Nonetheless, the car still felt good, but there's definitely areas that we can work on as a team and areas for me to work on personally. I'll just sit down tonight and make sure to get that straight for tomorrow. I've been trying to explore some new avenues with the car. We already know where it works well, so I'm pushing the car into different places, just trying to see if there's anywhere else I can exploit the car and the tyres for the future."
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:36.957, P1; FP2: 1:36.256, P1
"It's been a good day out on track; the car was well-balanced from the get-go. I had to take a fresh engine for the weekend which also seems be to working well. My pace looked competitive in both sessions, so from that perspective we've definitely started the last race weekend of the season off on the right foot, although I'm sure there's still room for improvement for tomorrow. The track was a bit dusty on the first few runs in FP1, but it evolved quickly and then felt pretty good all through the session. The end of my FP2 session was compromised by a minor incident with Grosjean; I thought he had seen me going for the overtake on the inside, but by the time I realised that he hadn't seen me, there was no way for me to escape anymore."
James Allison, Technical Director
"It's been a pretty good day, Valtteri was strong from the outset in FP1 and kept that good pace going in FP2 on the low fuel and also in the race simulation runs. Lewis took a little bit longer to find his rhythm with the car but seems to have got that now and was certainly fast and very effective in the long runs. The car is behaving itself and we're hopefully of a good day tomorrow. Although we've had a strong day today, it's pretty clear from looking at the Ferrari and the Red Bull that they've got pace in their car as well, so it'll be an exciting day tomorrow in Qualifying where there'll be no room for error."
First practice was ended by red flags that were caused by none other than Vettel, as the German spun out of Turn 19 and collided with the barriers. That corner didn't prove friendly to the Scuderia, with Leclerc also losing the rear and catching the barrier there at the start of FP2 - fortunately managing to keep control and make it back to the pits under his own steam. When they stayed out of trouble, they looked there or thereabouts, and it was Leclerc seeming slightly happier around this technical circuit.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:38.906, P5; FP2: 1:36.691, P4
“In the medium low speed corners of this circuit we are still lacking speed, compared to our rivals. Sector three is the one that really hurts us, we are struggling with the tyres getting hot, and the car is difficult to drive. Of course when you drive on the limit, any car will be more difficult to drive, and this what we are here to do. We will try our best to have a solid weekend, we can improve the set up and then see if we can fight well on Sunday. Today I hit the barriers: I was caught out a bit by surprise as I didn’t expect to spin. I knew going in that I would have to catch the rear, but it didn’t quite work, which was a bit unfortunate, but the only damage was to the rim.”
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:39.249, P7; FP2: 1:36.642, P3
“The first session was quite challenging for us. The balance of the car was not great, but we took a very good step forward and returned to FP2 with a better performance. This is positive, as the track conditions were far more representative of what we can expect during qualifying and the race, considering that they both take place during the night in Abu Dhabi. Tyre degradation is quite an important factor here. We seem to be fast in the first and second sectors, however still have some work ahead in optimising how we perform in sector three, so we will focus on that and try to make some further improvements. Our competitors may very well be stronger than what they have shown in FP2, so we will see how things stand tomorrow.”
Verstappen rarely sounds overly thrilled on Fridays and the trend continued as he complained of traffic and tyre wear. The Dutchman did look quick though, especially in the third sector and could certainly take the fight to Mercedes and Ferrari tomorrow. As for Albon, he had a quieter day but was still in the top six in both sessions, and will look to make inroads tomorrow.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:37.492, P2; FP2: 1:36.807, P5
“Overall, it was a pretty decent Friday. I’m not entirely happy with the balance yet and there are of course still some things we need to look at and do better but overall I’m pretty pleased. Mercedes look very strong here again and will be hard to beat but I still think it will be close tomorrow. We will analyse the tyre data later today but overall there are no real surprises. The soft is quick over one lap and on race runs it drops off as expected.”
Alex Albon - FP1: 1:38.084, P4; FP2: 1:37.288, P6
“It was tricky out there but overall today was good and we’re getting there. It’s difficult to get the tyres working and there’s quite a lot of dust down so that’s why we saw a lot of cars spinning. The balance was okay and we know we need to improve a little bit here and there but Max looked quick so let’s see how things go tomorrow. I think I’ve got a little bit of fine tuning to do on my side, especially in sector three, but we’re chipping away. The Ferraris will of course be quick in qualifying but let’s see where we are come qualifying.”
Haas had an eventful day, with Magnussen called back into the pits after something came loose on his seat. Worse was to come though, as Grosjean collided with Bottas in the latter stages of FP2. The Frenchman was ahead on the track and took the racing line into Turn 11, crashing into the Mercedes that had dived down the inside. That one was referred to the stewards, who gave Bottas a reprimand. It took the gloss off the day, as up until that point, Haas had looked quick.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:39.146, P6; FP2: 1:37.601, P7
“I was running a modified package, one that I hadn’t run before, so we were really doing it to get my feedback and to learn for the future. In FP1 I was really happy with the floor, the modifications and so on, so I said let’s carry on with it into the second session. Unfortunately, we only had one of that package. Tomorrow we have to change the car back. It’s not great as we did a really good job today with sixth in FP1 and seventh in FP2, best of the rest in both sessions. Yes, race pace can be improved, but we tried a few different things and we know where we could have done better. Now tomorrow we need to revert to another package. Valtteri (Bottas) apologised, he made a mistake, he even offered me one of his floors but we have to stick with what we know!”
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:39.249, P8; FP2: 1:38.080, P14
“It’s slightly difficult to say how it’s been today, it’s been a little bit difficult to read. FP1 was okay, then in FP2 I had a lot of traffic. I was just really unlucky with it. So that’s made it hard to get a real feeling on things. Even on my long run I kept getting traffic, it wasn’t really a good session. As I said, FP1 was okay. We saw Romain (Grosjean) up there at the top of the midfield in FP2, so it can’t be too bad. He obviously had damage with Bottas crashing into him, he has to go to another floor – the same one as me. I’m hoping that wasn’t the reason he was so fast, we’ll see.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It looked like in FP1 that we were going to have a good day, and also FP2 started well. We got our testing in, we’re doing some development work looking ahead to 2020. Unfortunately, it came to an end when Bottas decided to take us out. What looked like a good day to start off with, it came to an end just over an hour into FP2, so it didn’t end as a good day. We have to regroup and see how we run the car tomorrow, we’ll try to do our best as always. We didn’t expect to be performing as well as we did today, but we did, and now we just need to try and continue it and get the same kind of performance out on Saturday.”
Gasly was the unlucky recipient of a helmet covered in oil after he was right behind Ricciardo when the Aussie's engine went up in flames. He was lucky to make it back to the pits in one piece, needing his visor cleaned for good measure. When not skating on oil, the Frenchman looked quick once again and might fancy continuing the momentum garnered in Brazil. As for Kvyat, he actually pipped his team mate in both sessions and will be hunting a first Q3 appearance since Mexico.
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:39.969, P15; FP2: 1:37.651, P9
“It was a productive day, FP1 wasn’t so important as the conditions are different to the conditions we race in, but it’s still useful to get some reference points and see how the car behaves. FP2 was also productive, all of the laps were important because the conditions are more representative for the race, so it was good to put so many laps in during the session. We’ll see when we study the data tonight what we need to do with the car for tomorrow. I felt quite good with the car today, but it doesn’t mean we can stop working and leave everything like this, things change over the weekend and we need to adapt.”
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:40.401, P16; FP2: 1:37.770, P10
“It was a bit of a messy FP1 between the red flags and getting blocked on my second run, so it wasn’t an ideal session as we didn’t do many laps. The good thing was we were still able to test a couple of things we had planned. FP2 was a better session, as between the two cars we completed more testing ahead of Qualifying and the race, so now we have good things to analyse to decide what’s the best configuration for tomorrow. I’m happy with this afternoon, the long-run pace was strong and I think there’s more to come in the short runs. To finish in the Top 10 today makes us feel positive.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“We didn’t have the easiest FP1 session today and this was reflected on the timing sheets. We ran the Option first followed by the Prime, which was never going to help flatter us, and we came here with a number of test items, which were unfortunately interrupted by the red flags. This means we were a little bit on the back foot during that session. Yas Marina is a track where it’s easy to get stuck in traffic, and this happened particularly to Pierre as he struggled to get a clean lap. For Dany, the car balance was quite good in FP1, while Pierre struggled a little bit more. We did a lot of analysis on the data and made a number of changes going into FP2, so we had a cleaner session this afternoon. We were able to show the true competitiveness of the car over the short runs with both cars ending the day in the Top 10, which is where they should be, so that was positive. In the long runs, the option tyre showed to be quite stable, but there is still some work to do, particularly if we make it to Q3 tomorrow as it would be the race start tyre. The performance on the other two compounds on the long runs looked pretty good, so there’s still a lot to analyse tonight, but I think we can look forward to a reasonable performance for the rest of the weekend.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“From a PU point of view, everything went smoothly today across both teams. In FP2 when conditions were similar to those we will experience in qualifying and the race, all four of our cars were in the top ten, which is a solid performance. However, we still have plenty of work to do to get our settings right for the rest of the weekend, to improve our performance. We will analyse our data carefully – mainly from FP2 – to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying.”
Ricciardo had his first session cut short after an apparent power unit failure. Fortunately it was a 'Friday' engine and the team were able to change it in time for him to get a good number of laps in second practice. With the team opting to focus on race pace, it is hard to know where they are in the pecking order, but the expectation is certainly higher than they finished in FP2.
Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:39.505, P10; FP2: 1:38.122, P15
“It was a fairly standard Friday. The first session was hot under the sun and then things cooled in the evening where conditions are similar to both qualifying and the race. There were no particular problems for us and we worked through our programme as planned. The car felt good in the first session but we seemed to lose a bit of performance in the evening. We need to see what happened there. We’ll dig into the data and aim to make some improvements ready for qualifying.”
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:40.850, P19; FP2: 1:38.400, P16
“It wasn’t the smoothest Friday for us today. We missed a bit of running with the engine issue in the first session and, in the evening, we made some changes to the car. We were a bit off the pace, we haven’t quite found the balance yet, so we’ll be looking for some further tweaks ahead of qualifying. I’m feeling confident we’ll get there and find the sweet spot to put us in a pretty good place for tomorrow and for the race.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“Today proved to be a tricky day for us. FP1 went well enough but in the cooler conditions of FP2 we didn’t quite get the tyres into their working window for the first timed laps early in the session. As always we seem competitive on high fuel and we will be looking at various settings overnight to have the car in the right configuration to make some headway in final practice and qualifying tomorrow.”
It was a productive day for McLaren, who ran flow-vis paint in FP1 in a bid to gather aero data. Concentrating on qualifying pace once the sun set, the team looked to have a reasonable day but will need to find some extra pace to stay competitive tomorrow. And with the two drivers tied at 10 apiece in qualifying sessions this season, who can take the single lap honours?
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:40.687, P17; FP2: 1:37.834, P11
“A decent Friday in terms of running but obviously just a bit outside the top 10, which is not ideal. The field seems to have tightened even more this weekend and the battle to lead the midfield tomorrow will be tough.
“I’m confident we know where to look for those extra tenths and hopefully we can take the necessary steps to qualify close to the top teams.”
Lando Norris - FP1: 1:39.628, P11; FP2: 1:37.918, P12
“A difficult day. We’re not where we want to be in terms of the pace of the car. We do have positives concerning the car but also some weaknesses.
“We just need to work on those then I think we should be looking better for tomorrow. Qualifying is going to be very close as usual, no matter what. We just need to make sure we extract every little bit."
Andrea Stella, Performance Director
“We had a solid Friday with both cars running well, getting through their run plans without any issues. Today’s test items included some aerodynamic measurements and tests, in addition to gaining an understanding of the tyres in preparation for the race.
“This weekend the tyres are interesting, as is usually the case when we have the C5 compound. We’ve gathered good data today that we’ll analyse overnight to give us the best chance of ending the season on a high note in what promises to be a very tight qualifying session and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”
Giovinazzi had a lucky escape – he spun out of Turn 19 but unlike Vettel, managed to keep his turning C38 out of the barriers and escaped with just a ruined set of tyres for his troubles. As for Raikkonen, he steadily accumulated laps and hopefully learned plenty in a bid to end his season on a high.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:39.888, P13; FP2: 1:38.415, P17
“Laptimes say very little on Fridays so I won’t focus too much on that. We still have to work on things, look at all the data we collected and make an improvement ahead of tomorrow. Only when we get to qualifying we will have a clear idea of where we really stand against the rest.”
Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:39.423, P9; FP2: 1:38.464, P18
“We looked strong in FP1, but tomorrow’s qualifying conditions will look a lot more like FP2 when it was cooler. We will need to check everything we learnt today, come up with a good setup and put it all together when it matters. I made a small mistake when pushing, but didn’t touch the wall. In the end, you’re trying to find the limit and this is what practice is for. The track is quite long and the gaps are naturally bigger, but the battle in the midfield will still be close. We will need to analyse all the data we got tonight and make the right choices for tomorrow.”
It was a quiet day for the Racing Point team, with their drivers evenly matched. Despite the red flag stoppages, they still managed a decent haul of laps to gather crucial data for tomorrow, and will have hopes of sneaking at least one car into the top-10 battle in qualifying.
Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:39.901, P14; FP2: 1:37.637, P8
"It has been a good day and our pace in FP2 was competitive. The evening session is generally the most representative so I’m feeling quite optimistic. Tomorrow is looking very tight and I think one or two tenths will make the difference between making Q3 and missing out. If we are able to put everything together and find a bit of rhythm and pace tomorrow, we can secure a good result in qualifying. Our race pace is also looking competitive so hopefully we can carry this forward into Sunday."
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:39.864, P12; FP2: 1:37.985, P13
"The car looks pretty competitive, but obviously we don’t know what set-up and fuel loads the rest of the teams are running today so we will see what tomorrow brings. There are some things to look over tonight, but our pace in the second session gives us confidence for the rest of the weekend. We have a good balance here so it’s about optimising our package tomorrow. Every weekend is important but we definitely want to finish off the season on a high."
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
"It’s going to be another close and competitive weekend with small margins making the difference in the midfield. We’ve collected plenty of data today, although the three red flags prevented us from doing as much running as we would have liked. That said, we have a good understanding of the three tyre compounds and by the end of the day we had given the drivers a car balance more to their liking. The homework we’ve done should give us a good chance to compete for a place in Q3 tomorrow evening."
Russell struggled with the balance of his FW42 in first practice, but once he found a set-up more to his liking, got his head down in FP2 to pip his team mate. Kubica also had a productive day in his final Friday as an F1 driver, managing a good haul of laps as he bids to out-qualify his team mate for the first time this season.
Robert Kubica - FP1: 1:40.792, P18; FP2: 1:40.455, P20
"Today was quite a mixture. The first session was surprisingly good for the conditions we had on the track. I was pretty happy with the balance and with the things we were trying, which were more for next year. Normally FP2 is a better session in the cooler conditions and with lower track temperatures, but for us it was the opposite. We need to try and get back to having the behaviour and feeling of the car I had in FP1, so, as always, we will try our best, and hopefully it will work better tomorrow than it did this afternoon."
George Russell - FP1: 1:41.362, P20; FP2: 1:39.512, P19
"The car was feeling nice to drive, probably one of the best of the year, but the pace was quite slow. It was tricky around the circuit, because it changes a lot from FP1 to FP2 as the conditions get cooler and it turns from day to night. I was enjoying it and it was good fun to drive. I felt that I learnt something from FP2 in the long runs, especially after the red flag as our pace was stronger in relative terms. I have not been feeling great, but the session was good for me and I feel fine to drive, which is the most important thing."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
"We enjoyed a productive Friday as we conducted testing in the hot conditions of FP1 before turning our attention to qualifying and race preparation in FP2. The red flags in both sessions disrupted the flow a little, but, nonetheless, we adapted well and completed everything that we had planned.
"The cooler conditions in FP2, and the relatively soft compounds available at this event, helped improve the handling of the car, and this was particularly to George’s liking. Unfortunately, Robert was less happy in FP2 than he had been in FP1, and this is something that we will be looking at overnight.
"Tomorrow will be another day of two halves, with the track hot in FP3 before again cooling down before, and during qualifying. We will not pay too much attention to FP3 and instead will try to build on our FP2 findings as we seek the best balance for qualifying.
"Although we are rapidly approaching the end of a long and tricky season, it is inspiring to see that the team continues to work hard, professionally, and effectively. Their tireless efforts are very much appreciated, and their dedication to the cause will prove to be excellent preparation for next season."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"No real surprises from either of the free practice sessions from our point of view, apart from the fact that the performance gaps between all the compounds is a little bit bigger than expected for now, and the red flag interrupted the long FP2 runs at a crucial moment. Given that FP3 tomorrow will be run in warm daytime conditions, analysing tonight's data carefully will be particularly important as the teams work out their qualifying strategy: whether to approach Q2 with the medium tyre – which could be a valid tactic – or instead the soft tyre, if they believe it will last well enough throughout the opening race stint. The hard could equally play a pivotal role on race day for those who start on the soft, with a considerable number of teams trying it during FP2. This evening resulted in best lap times that are around a second faster than they were in the same session at Yas Marina last year: a sure sign that Formula 1 continues to evolve and become constantly quicker, so we need to ensure tyres that match this progress."