Both drivers thought they had more to offer. Verstappen had a small problem which obliged him to stop running in FP2, while Ricciardo said he hit traffic on his best run and could have gone faster. They believe they’ll be fully in the fight for third place tomorrow.
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:43.362, P4; FP2: 1:41.390, P5
"It’s hot here, even if it’s night-time and the tyres get worked pretty hard both front and rear so relative to everyone I think we still look pretty good. If we all put it together tomorrow we’re more or less there and I’m confident it’ll be a good fight for third place. As expected Mercedes are ahead but I don’t think they are miles ahead, so looking at today maybe we can still race them on Sunday. It’s a dangerous circuit around here, but I don’t see any reason to hold back in practice. If it’s Monaco then I understand if you’re being careful about your equipment but here you can definitely push and go on the limit so we’ll see tomorrow. Maybe Nico is holding back a bit and not showing Lewis too much. I think everyone predicts Lewis to take pole so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out tomorrow. I definitely felt comfortable today and am looking forward to the next two days.”
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:43.297, P3; FP2: 1:41.389, P4
“My last Friday at the track for this season wasn’t bad. We had a few issues with the car today which meant aborting the last run was the sensible thing to do so we can check the car and make sure we are ready to go in the morning. Nothing is broken and there is nothing to worry about, just safe to stop early. The grip is always a bit difficult in the first session here with the temperatures being higher but already you can tell it’s a lot better as the track is cleaner in FP2. The ultrasoft compound dropped off quite quickly, as you can tell by the short runs on them but the soft seems to be performing well. Ferrari look strong but we are up there also. I had a bit of traffic on my quick lap so I’m confident we are competitive, it should be an exciting qualifying tomorrow. Generally over the season we have improved from Friday to Saturday so I think tomorrow we will be strong.”
Toro Rosso had a horrible day. Sainz looked decent in FP1 on supersofts, but Kvyat had a left rear puncture and was unable to limp back to the pits before the tyre fell apart. He had a similar problem in FP2 which saw him spin at Turn 16, and after crawling successfully back to the pit this time, both STR11 were grounded as an investigation was undertaken.
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 2:01.989, P22; FP2: 1:45.948, P22
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:44.685, P8; FP2: 1:44.478, P8
Franz Tost, team principal
“After facing two failures on the rear rim of Daniil’s car today, it was decided to avoid sending Carlos out on track again because we still haven’t understood 100 percent where the problem is coming from. We will now work hard tonight, together with the engineers back in Faenza, and hopefully we will sort it out for tomorrow.”
Williams had a complex schedule for the day, experimenting with set-ups in readiness for 2017, and running each car in a different configuration before settling on the right direction for Saturday.
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:45.940, P15; FP2: 1:41.959, P7
“As a Friday, everything went well. In FP1 we were doing some pretty specific tests with the engine and aerodynamics so, from the lap times, it’s difficult to comment. But FP2 felt a lot better and it looks like we are where we have been at the last few races. Once again, we’re battling with Force India. But I know there are improvements we can make to the car and there’s plenty more to come tomorrow.”
Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:45.039, P9; FP2: 1:42.268, P10
“It was my last Friday so I would have loved to finished in first position! In fact, I’d like to that on my last Saturday and especially my last Sunday too! Today we were trying to find out as much about the tyres and the car as we could, particularly on long runs. It won’t be an easy race, but I will definitely do everything I can to have a good result here in Abu Dhabi for my final Grand Prix. I will try to enjoy it as much as I can - but the best enjoyment will come from a good race result, so that’s what I’m hoping we can achieve on Sunday.”
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering
“In general, we can be quite happy with today’s running. We ran a complex test programme in FP1, predominantly for next year and this weekend, and have got some really interesting test results, which we’ll be carrying into the winter. FP2 was more concentrated on this weekend’s Grand Prix; running low and high fuel, both of which looked good. We tried two different set-up directions on the car, which has helped us understand and identify the clearest direction to work on for tomorrow. The high fuel on the ultrasoft tyre looked really good. And on the prime and option tyres we look reasonably competitive so, whilst we have a little bit of work to do on the car set-up and configuration tonight, overall we are looking in pretty good shape.”
Sauber looked better in the higher temperatures of FP1, but struggled more in the evening. Ericsson couldn’t find grip, while Nasr’s best lap was hurt by traffic, thus denying him a decent reference point for overnight set-up work.
Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:45.168, P10; FP2: 1:44.045, P19
“It’s been a mixed day. It was looking good on the soft and supersoft compounds, but for some reason we were struggling to get the ultrasoft tyres to work. Especially on the low fuel run in FP2, we struggled to get the grip needed. That’s the challenge for us going forward tomorrow, as there is surely room for improvement on the ultrasoft compound. Nevertheless, I was able to run a fair amount of laps. We will look in more detail into the data, and I am confident that we can find some things to improve.”
Felipe Nasr - FP1: 1:45.778, P13; FP2: 1:43.903, P18
“In FP1 we seemed to have quite a good balance on the car with the higher temperatures. However, this is not really relevant, as qualifying and the race will be in the evening, meaning that the temperatures are much lower. Overall, it was important that we went through our programme. Later on in FP2 I was compromised on my quick lap, so I do not have a good reference there. We still have to work on the balance of the car to extract more out it. It is good that we have the evening to analyse all the data in order to make steps forward.”
Alonso had balance problems in FP1 as the team elected to experiment ahead of 2017, but was happy with his MP4-31 in FP2 when it was closer to the pace. Button, facing his last Grand Prix, was told to tour back to the pits in FP1, and needed a power unit change. That kept him off track until the latter section of FP2, so he did well to climb up to 12th.
Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:46.379, P18; FP2: 1:42.366, P11
“As a team, we need to take every opportunity we can to test things on the track for next year. We need to learn and understand as much as we can about configurations or philosophies that we can put into next year’s car. And today was a day when we could really improve our understanding - particularly in FP1, which isn’t really representative of the conditions we’ll find in either qualifying or the race, so it made sense to experiment a little.
“In FP2, we had our only opportunity to learn about the tyres in similar conditions to those we’ll experience in the race - at night, and with cooler track temperatures.
“It’s been a positive start to the weekend - let’s hope we can maintain that momentum into the race.”
Jenson Button - FP1: 1:47.127, P20; FP2: 1:42.823, P12
“Wearing my old 2009 helmet design today was great - the colours are fantastic, but the memories are even better.
"It wasn’t a great day for us - we had to stop running fairly early in FP1, then elected to change the power unit before FP2. Then I got out half an hour into the session. It might’ve been a bit of a troublesome day, but I still think we learned something useful by the end of the day’s running.
"It’s fun to drive around here, and I think our race pace will be stronger than it has been for the past few races, we’ve just got to pull it all together by qualifying strongly.
“Whatever weekend we have, I want to make it as good as I can - and not just because it’s my last race. Hopefully we’ll be stronger tomorrow.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“We noted an ERS data conflict on Jenson’s car during FP1, and chose to stop early to investigate the problem. As a precaution, we changed the power unit between sessions - but didn’t conclusively find a problem with any of the components. The mechanics nonetheless did a fantastic job to ready the car for FP2, and Jenson’s run-plan was barely affected.
“In terms of pace, we’re comfortable, but we need to go away and dig a little deeper into the data in order to get a better feel for some of the underlying degradation issues with the tyres. Given the day-to-night nature of the practice sessions, this is always something of a difficult day from which to draw any firm conclusions. We’ll definitely be crunching the numbers deep into the night in a bid to begin tomorrow with a better understanding of how to best tackle the remainder of the weekend.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“Friday's free practice sessions were busy for the team, with the afternoon high-sun FP1 focusing on aero testing and initial set-ups, and the cool early evening FP2 running geared towards balance confirmation and race simulation long-runs.
“Fernando ran smoothly all day, whereas Jenson’s ERS detected an anomaly in water pressure and we were forced to cut short his run in FP1. Though we did not find any hardware issues on Jenson’s car, we elected to pull forward our plans to change the Friday PU within the session so he could run FP2 with his race engine. Thanks to the swift work of the mechanics, and Fernando’s consistent data gathering, it did not take long to improve both cars’ balance as the long-runs continued throughout FP2.
“We still have more work to be done tonight but a P11 and P12 finish for both cars is a good start towards tomorrow’s qualifying.”
Renault managed to get through most of their Friday programme, though Magnussen lost time in FP1 because of a water leak, and then his long-run on the soft tyres was compromised by a flat-spotted tyre. Palmer meanwhile said he thought the team were in the ‘right ballpark’ with setup.
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:46.372, P17; FP2: 1:44.117, P20
“We tried a few different things with the car today and we still have work to do. I don’t think we’re a million miles away from where we want to be, equally there’s still clear improvements to be made so we’ll be looking at that ahead of practice and qualifying tomorrow.”
Jolyon Palmer - FP1: 1:46.219, P16; FP2: 1:43.272, P15
“Today went pretty well. We have a good balance and all we have to work on is minimising the tyre degradation with a heavy fuel load. I feel that we’re in a pretty decent place with the car; there’s still some fine-tuning to be done, however we’re in the right ballpark.”
Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer
“We completed most of our programme today however we did miss out on some time with Kevin in the first session due to a water leak, and then his long-run on the soft tyres was compromised by a flat-spotted tyre. The super and ultrasoft tyres look to both be pretty short-lived from what we’ve seen so far so we have some number crunching yet to do.”
Vettel said he was happier when the car had calmed down in FP2, but that he’d encountered understeer on his long runs. Raikkonen said his car “felt fine,” but struggled to hook up decent lap in either session. Nevertheless, Ferrari are looking good so far.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:44.556, P7; FP2: 1:41.464, P6
“Today we had a very normal Friday practice, trying different things. The car was working pretty fine: it's just that I could not put a decent lap together, but overall it was a ‘basic’ day. We had some tyre graining, but this is very normal on the first day on track and it was not a big issue, as it's going to change for the race. Now we just have to work here and there and we should be ok.”
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:44.005, P5; FP2: 1:41.130, P3
“I am fairly happy with the day. Obviously, it is not ideal to have a gearbox issue on Friday, but I am not worried and it shouldn't have any impact on the weekend. In general it was a very good Friday. This afternoon P1 was somewhat tricky, as we struggled a bit on the hot track. But during P2 in the evening things calmed down, the car also calmed down, it was quite good and I was happy. In the long run I struggled a bit with the front end, maybe I was a bit too aggressive, but overall the car felt good. To be honest, I think we should have a good pace. Hopefully tomorrow we have a similar feeling in Quali and put the car where it belongs.”
Gutierrez thought he’d maximised his chances during the day, but Grosjean had some mapping and braking issues in FP1 that led to a spin, and then lost a lot of time in FP2 with a water leak.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:45.600, P12; FP2: 1:43.108, P14
“Not the easiest Friday we’ve ever had. We had some issues this morning with that spin, and some mapping issues and the braking. We did well and worked hard to sort that out for FP2. Then, unfortunately, in FP2 we had the issue with the water leak which meant we couldn’t do our long run. I’ve been struggling to get the tyres to work. We initially had a good run in the day, but then after that we struggled a bit more. That’s going to be the main concern for our work tonight. We know that FP3 tomorrow won’t be representative of the rest of the weekend. Hopefully, we make the right guess for qualifying and the race.”
Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 1:45.925, P14; FP2: 1:43.012, P13
“I think we maximized our track abilities today. We managed to complete the whole program, which was important for us to get a good feeling for the car, especially with the temperatures being very different between practice one and practice two. It’s important to understand how that affects our car. We have plenty of data to look at. We’ll work tonight to understand everything and make the right choices for tomorrow.”
Guenther Steiner, team principal
“FP1 and FP2 both started well. Everything seemed to go to plan. Then in the second half of FP2 on Romain’s car, we had a water leak, forcing us to stop running with him. We went through our testing, but we still have to learn about the ultrasoft tyres here. I think we made progress. We’re not where we want to be yet, but we have one more session tomorrow and then we’ll see.”
Both drivers said they got off to good starts for the weekend. Hamilton had flat-spot and traffic problems initially in FP2 and for a while feared he might have gearbox trouble but all was well and he was very happy in the end. Rosberg was also content with the way things had gone and reported no issues.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:42.869, P1; FP2: 1:40.861, P1
“It's been a great day. Generally very smooth with no real issues. The first run in FP2 wasn't ideal as there was so much traffic and I didn't get to do a flying lap. But after that I managed to get a decent time in. Not perfect, as I was still feeling where the car was, but good enough. We got a lot of work done both on the short and long runs. I'm really happy with the car and we're in a good position for tomorrow. Pole is the goal for tomorrow. I haven't managed it at this track for a long time but I know I'm quick here, the car feels great and there's still some time in it, so that's my absolute focus right now.”
Nico Rosberg - FP1: 1:43.243, P2; FP2: 1:40.940, P2
“A decent start to the weekend. Straight away the car started off with a balance that was in the right area. It's always interesting going from hot conditions to cooler ones between the afternoon and evening sessions. Adapting to that and knowing what to expect can be a challenge but our car was working well in both conditions, on low and high fuel. Graining on the front tyres when they're cold is the main thing we need to get to grips with in preparation for the race.”
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
“That was a solid start to the weekend. Both drivers struggled to put good laps together at various points in each session with traffic and the odd mistake. But our pace is looking reasonably good on both the single lap and on long runs. We have more work to do overnight to make sure we have our setup and strategy right for the weekend ahead. Tonight, these W07 cars will be built to race for the last time - cars that the team has laboured over for thousands of hours. It's the first step towards the end of a quite incredible working life for these machines. Hopefully we can give them the send-off they deserve.”
Force India got through a big programme and both regular drivers were happy with where they ended up, though each complained of power loss on the straights in FP2. Celis did a decent job to take 11th in FP1.
Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:44.155, P6; FP2: 1:42.041, P8
“It was a positive day for us. We managed to complete a big programme and we have plenty of information to analyse tonight. Looking at the times, I don’t see any big surprises: we are where we expected to be before the weekend started and we’ve done some good race preparation. The track evolved a lot between the sessions, especially with the temperature drop between FP1 and FP2, but I think we’re nearly there in terms of set-up. I think we have done a good job and I am really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Alfonso Celis - FP1: 1:45.476, P11
“This is where I made my Formula One debut one year ago, so it was the chance to show how much I have learned over the last twelve months. Every time I get in the car, it gets easier, and knowing the team well means that once the helmet is on I can just focus on my driving. I am pleased with my performance today – working through the job list and giving the team plenty of information to study this evening.”
Nico Hulkenberg - FP2: 1:42.264, P9
“I was in the car for the evening session only, but it wasn’t a big disadvantage because that’s when the track conditions are representative of what we’ll experience in qualifying and the race. I felt quite good with the car straight away and I was able to find a good rhythm quickly. There’s still some work to do with the balance, because it’s not where I want it to be yet, but we should be able to find some extra grip overnight.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer
“It was a good first day of work, with lots of data gathered and no major concerns with the car. Alfonso did a good job in FP1 and Nico was straight on the pace when he returned for FP2. Track evolution was something to take into account, even during the hot FP1 session, but once the sun had set the track settled down to what we expected – and these are the conditions that will be representative for qualifying and the race. We made some adjustments to the car in the opening session to help the drivers and they responded positively to the changes. There is still quite a lot of work to do before qualifying, but we are confident of extracting some more performance overnight.”
All in all a very positive day for all three drivers, with King gathering plenty of data in FP1, and Ocon and Wehrlein looking quick in FP2 – the latter in his first Abu Dhabi outing.
Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:46.458, P19; FP2: 1:43.754, P17
“Pretty good Friday in terms of what we learned and we tried all the things we wanted to try. A slight disappointment in FP2, as the changes we made between sessions didn’t work. Most important is what we learned from the car and the pace was quite good today in general. I really enjoy this circuit but it’s certainly a very challenging one. There are too many corners for our car. But I love racing under the lights and the switch from day into night. It’s going to be a great place for the season finale.”
Jordan King - FP1: 1:47.558, P21
“Well, first of all it’s great to be back in the MRT05 for a second time, so thanks to the team for having me back. My programme was quite different to Austin, specifically helping to address some of the problems that Esteban has been experiencing with the car over the past couple of race weekends. It’s the best feeling to drive a Formula 1 car anyway, but even more so when you know that what you’re working on will have a direct impact on the progress the team can make over the race weekend. I learned a lot myself and so did the engineering team. So, I guess today feels even more rewarding, but with no less of a wow factor than Austin. Now I switch back into full GP2 mode for the rest of the weekend but with an even bigger spring in my step than usual after this morning.”
Esteban Ocon - FP2: 1:43.600, P16
“It was a positive day for me, even though a short one. We captured some good data from Jordan during FP1 and that was useful information for me to take on board for FP2. The car has good pace here and it’s feeling nice to drive on this track. I do know the track very well and I’m sure that has contributed to getting up to speed in a short space of time. Some tracks you just get to grips with quite quickly and suit your style – this is one of them. I really enjoy it, so bring on the rest of the weekend.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director
“Quite a bit going on today, with Jordan running in FP1 in place of Esteban and then both race drivers back in the car for this afternoon. But all of it was really positive and apart from a few little things we need to work on – normal for a Friday – it feels like we’re in good shape for the season finale, which is how we wanted it to be coming into the weekend.
“Jordan did a really solid job in FP1, as we’ve come to expect of him. It was a step on from the programme he had in Austin, by a combination of both design and necessity. This was a planned session for him, so his run plan reflected work we needed to do to address some issues we’ve had with Esteban’s car and at the same time it provided a useful step up in Jordan’s own progression.
“This afternoon Esteban slotted back in very readily and was up to speed in no time at all, aided I’m sure by his prior experience of the circuit. Pascal too had a very positive opening day and with all three drivers we could see that our pace here is good and the car seems to be performing well at this stage. A promising start, but we’ll keep pushing for more for qualifying and the race.”
Paul Hembery, motorsport director
“As we expected, wear and degradation is reasonably high on the softest compounds, due to the high longitudinal acceleration and braking demands of this track. However, the pattern depends very much on the state of the track, which has been changing all day due to normal evolution and also falling temperatures in FP2. As a result, drivers are chasing a moving target when it comes to defining set-up and strategy, which adds an extra element to the challenge imposed by the championship finale. Already we have seen some of the run plans today influenced by the pre-event tyre choices from each driver, giving an insight into individual strategies.”
More to follow.