Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas went quickest in opening practice for Formula 1’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beating Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by half a second. There was trouble for Sebastian Vettel, however, with the Ferrari driver crashing out late in the session. Bottas worked his way to the top of the order in the opening half of the session and 45 minutes in the Finn headed the table with a time of 1m36.957s set on medium tires. The lap saw him sixth tenths clear of team-mate Hamilton. Verstappen then popped in a lap a tenth quicker than Hamilton’s to take P2 but the Dutchman was still 0.535s behind 2017 Abu Dhabi GP winner Bottas.
There was little time after that to improve as half an hour from the end of the session Daniel Ricciardo suffered an engine failure that led to a lengthy stoppage.
The Renault driver was nearing the end of a hot lap when smoke erupted from the rear of his car in the final corner. He immediately pulled over at the side of the track, but not before showering the closely following Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly in a fluid.
With drivers forced to take an alternative line through the final corner, the session was red-flagged and the clean-up operation began. The stoppage lasted almost 15 minutes and the action resumed with a warning of the conditions still being slippery in the final sector.
It meant that there were no improvements in the final quarter of an hour, though there were more incidents.
Sebastian Vettel was down in the fifth place when the red flag period came to and pushing for an improvement in the final minutes he lost the rear of his Ferrari in Turn 19 and slide backwards into the wall. The crash again brought out the red flags and the session was halted for good.
Bottas, therefore, remained at the top of the order ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton. Fourth place went to Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Alex Albon with Vettel stuck in fifth. Haas’ Romain Grosjean claimed best of the rest status with sixth place ahead of the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, while Grosjean’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen took eighth place ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
2019 FIA Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:36.957 23 206.219
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:37.492 0.535 22 205.087
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.591 0.634 20 204.879
4 Alexander Albon Red Bull 1:38.084 1.127 23 203.849
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:38.906 1.949 19 202.155
6 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:39.146 2.189 18 201.666
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:39.249 2.292 18 201.456
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:39.350 2.393 19 201.252
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:39.423 2.466 2 201.104
10 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:39.505 2.548 22 200.938
11 Lando Norris McLaren 1:39.628 2.671 18 200.690
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:39.864 2.907 23 200.216
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1:39.888 2.931 17 200.168
14 Sergio Pérez Racing Point1:39.901 2.944 17 200.142
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:39.969 3.012 20 200.006
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso1:40.401 3.444 17 199.145
17 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1:40.687 3.730 23 198.579
18 Robert Kubica Williams1:40.792 3.835 21 198.372
19 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:40.850 3.893 12 198.258
20 George Russell Williams1:41.362 4.405 24 197.257