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FP1: Verstappen quickest in Abu Dhabi first practice with title rival Hamilton third

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Max Verstappen had the early edge over Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1’s most dramatic race weekend in living memory, as he topped first practice for the season-ending, title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the heavily revised Yas Marina Circuit.

Verstappen clocked a 1m25.009s on the soft tyres, two tenths clear of Valtteri Bottas, with Hamilton – whom he is level on points with in the fight for the title - 0.346s off the pace in third, a fraction ahead of Sergio Perez, as the top two teams in the constructors’ championship locked out the top four.

Teams didn’t wait very long before sending their respective cars out, with drivers keen to explore the new-look Abu Dhabi track that is set to be around 10-15 seconds faster according to simulations, following the removal of several slower turns.

REVEALED: The track changes aimed at improving overtaking at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit

Verstappen’s leading in time in FP1, which will get beaten as the weekend goes, was around 12 seconds quicker than he managed when he topped the same session last year.

Abu Dhabi 2021

Practice 1 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1VER1:25.009
2BOT+0.196s
3HAM+0.346s
4PER+0.354s
5TSU+0.369s
View Full Results

Yuki Tsunoda was a sensational fifth with his AlphaTauri team mate Pierre Gasly seventh, the pair separated by the Alpine of Fernando Alonso. Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were eighth and ninth respectively as Sebastian Vettel closed out the top 10.

Esteban Ocon – who was one of a number of drivers who got very close to the barriers – was a second off the pace in 11th, with Lando Norris the leading McLaren in 12th.

Kimi Raikkonen, competing on his final weekend in Formula 1, was 13th – a couple of tenths of a second ahead of Alfa Romeo team mate Antonio Giovinazzi with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll 15th.

The second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo was down in 16th, with Jack Aitken – who was borrowing George Russell’s car for FP1 – quicker than Williams team mate Nicholas Latifi. The Haas pairing of Mick Schumacher Nikita Mazepin rounded out the field.

FP1 Highlights: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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