Hamilton ends Friday practice on top as Raikkonen crashes

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix second practice

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Lewis Hamilton ended Friday practice fastest with Esteban Ocon an unexpected second-fastest for Alpine in a session which ended with Kimi Raikkonen crashing his Alfa Romeo.

Hamilton posted a 1’23.691, putting him three tenths clear of Ocon’s Alpine and six tenths faster than his championship rival Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver finished the session fourth fastest behind both of the Mercedes.

Valtteri Bottas had a brush with the wall 10 minutes into the session after oversteering on the exit of turn 14 under the hotel. He immediately pitted, with Mercedes mechanics examining his right-rear wheel, before being released back out onto the track having been delayed for just over five minutes. He wasn’t the last driver to encounter problems in the reshaped and resurfaced section which passes under the hotel.

Nicholas Latifi had a more substantial meeting with the barriers when he spun his Williams through turn 13. He backed into the barriers but was able to pull away and recover to the pitlane.

Hamilton set the early pace, putting in a 1’24.126 on the medium tyres as the sun began to set. Bottas improved on his return to the track after his tag with the wall, going second fastest, before topping the times with a lap almost half a tenth faster than his team mate.

Verstappen would have been higher up the standings, but the Red Bull driver had his best lap of the early phase of the session deleted for exceeding track limits in the final corner. Fernando Alonso also fell foul of the stewards, having multiple laps deleted for running to wide on the exit of the final corner.

Ocon temporarily moved to the head of the field in the Alpine, before Hamilton re-took the top spot by breaking into the 1’23s for the first time.

As the sun set around the Yas Marina circuit, there was little in the way of lap time improvements as teams focused on longer runs under the same conditions they will face for Sunday’s race.

When the chequered flag flew, Hamilton’s earlier fastest time was quick enough to see him finish at the top of the timesheets, ahead of Ocon and Bottas.

On his final lap, Raikkonen lost control of his Alfa Romeo through the troublesome turn 14, and spun, hitting the wall with the rear of the car before secondary contact with the front. Raikkonen was able to climb out of the car unharmed, but a long night of repairs awaits his mechanics ahead of tomorrow’s running.

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix second practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’23.69126
231Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’24.0340.34329
377Valtteri BottasMercedes1’24.0830.39229
433Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’24.3320.64125
511Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’24.4000.70926
614Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’24.4950.80427
722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’24.5320.84126
816Charles LeclercFerrari1’24.5570.86629
955Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’24.8441.15329
1010Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’24.9401.24927
113Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’24.9591.26826
1299Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’25.1081.41727
134Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’25.1531.46227
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’25.1951.50427
1518Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’25.3851.69426
167Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’25.4401.74923
1763George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’25.5491.85829
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’25.6871.99622
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’25.7842.09327
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’26.3362.64526

Second practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’23.691

+0.343 Esteban Ocon – 1’24.034

+0.392 Valtteri Bottas – 1’24.083

+0.641 Max Verstappen – 1’24.332

+0.709 Sergio Perez – 1’24.400

+0.804 Fernando Alonso – 1’24.495

+0.841 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’24.532

+0.866 Charles Leclerc – 1’24.557

+1.153 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’24.844

+1.249 Pierre Gasly – 1’24.940

+1.268 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’24.959

+1.417 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’25.108

+1.462 Lando Norris – 1’25.153

+1.504 Sebastian Vettel – 1’25.195

+1.694 Lance Stroll – 1’25.385

+1.749 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’25.440

+1.858 George Russell – 1’25.549

+1.996 Nicholas Latifi – 1’25.687

+2.093 Mick Schumacher – 1’25.784

+2.645 Nikita Mazepin – 1’26.336

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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35 comments on “Hamilton ends Friday practice on top as Raikkonen crashes”

  1. The headline lap times look ominous, but the Red Bull race pace looked very very good. Ocon making an appearance so high up the order suggests none of the big boys wanted to really show their hand on the quali runs

    1. @j4k3 Verstappen’s race simulation was on softs while Hamilton’s was on mediums.

      1. I heard them say that then I looked at the screen and saw yellow markings on the RBR. Was that Checo then on mediums.

  2. So far the track changes seem to be positive. Nice seeing the cars without that stop-start nature around the hotel section, faster and more dramatic from the increased momentum.

  3. I think this says less than it appears. RBR is not that much slower than Ocon in reality. Looking at Hamilton it seems he was focusing on easing into s1 to balance out the tire life in the lap. And generally the other point is that the engines in these cars today are spent and going straight in the trash after fp3 having done a season of FP donkey work.

    1. Agree, although Mercedes engine generally loses quite a bit of power when tired. I expect they have a more power to gain than RB with switch to race engine tomorrow. Or this was already reflected in fuel loads they run…. who knows

  4. The most telling element for me was Lewis’ interview afterwards. He looked very content.

    1. Always a big ‘tell’.

    2. Most of us achieve something – this gives us confidence. F1 drivers start with confidence and results follow. And if not – it’s someone else’s fault.

      1. Well, perfectly put.

        But I think Hamilton in 2011 or 12 would be visibly shaken if things were not going well. He’s been around very long time.

  5. What a guy this Hamilton. 6 tenth,s faster than Max and not even with the fastes car. Wow

    1. There’s a door. use it!

      1. I will Thanks… :-)

  6. Only FP2 but it’s the most representative conditions for qualifying and the race. RedBull look like they have the much stronger race car so far as Perez and Max were extremely impressive on their long runs. Mercedes are by no means out of it and will likely close up once their race engines go in, but so far I’d put my money on RedBull. I got a similar sense from the team in Saudi. They seem confident and know they’ve got a strong package here. Now we wait to see how Mercedes respond.

    1. If you had the same feeling in Saudi, then it’s Hamilton’s win again. You know, being able to get fastest lap with a damaged front wing and on hard tyres tells lots about LH… But much more but the “underdog” car Mercedes Benz has this season.

      1. I’d just pointed out below, that people seemed to forget that Hamilton has no trouble keeping up with Max on inferior tyres.

        I’d forgotten that he then had no problem on old hard tyres and a busted wing

      2. I think that Hamilton pushing hard to chase verstappen who was on fading mediums is not a good yardstick. Also the flap he got was with no Perez on track and neither Bottas or verstappen able to respond. Neither says much.

    2. My guess: as soon as the fairly new engine goes the Mercedes will be unstoppable.
      Max may be close in qualifications, but in the race Hamilton will drive off into the distance.

    3. Yeah similar to Jeddah we saw RBR taking their time to figure out bringing in the soft tire and by fp3 they were comfortably ahead on softs. I’m skeptical that Mercedes is a second off in race pace as skeptical as I am that rbr is competing in the midfield on raw pace. Fp3 will be fascinating.

  7. I do really like the removal of the chicane that has straightened the run to the new T5 hairpin & the opening up of T12/13/14 but I think I agree with Martin Brundle’s view that it’s a shame they have modified the second to last corner (Now T15) as what used to be a pretty tricky right flick where it was easy to run wide & lose time is now a far more straightforward corner that’s pretty easy flat out now.

    And while I generally like the new Turn 9 I do think it’s a less interesting corner than the little left/right/left chicane that it’s replaced as not only was that a tricky corner to get right but we did also see some good racing through it & it was fun watching the cars having to jump over the kerbs.

    I also worry that having that faster run into the new T9 may end up making any DRS passes a bit too easy with any car been passed not having the same opportunities to fight back with some late braking as they did with the chicane given how it doesn’t seem to be a very long or hard barking zone anymore.

  8. I honestly don’t think Merc are bothered about showing their true race pace.

    RB’s big problem in the last three races, is that the Merc has been demonstrably quicker.

    People seem to forget (and it’s easy with all the chaos!!) that, last week, Hamilton had no trouble keeping pace with Verstappen on inferior tyres.

    1. People seem to forget Verstappen was nearly 0.5 up on his final Q3 run and the only reason he didn’t set fastest lap was because he burnt his softer tyres out. RedBull threw everything at track position last week and still came incredibly close to winning. They’ll be more focused on race pace here and their race pace already looks incredibly strong.

      1. You understand that a car can be set up more qualifying than race pace and vice-versa etc?

        If ever a track where one lap pace was irrelevant, it was last week. Most said that if Max is in front he’ll be in big danger down the back straight, because of the current Mercedes pace advantage.

        They didn’t come that close to winning – if they’d been no safety car, Lewis would have probably finished 20s ahead.

        Current race pace difference between the Merc and RB reminds me of the end of seasons of 17′, 18′ and 19′.

        Sector 3 seems to be the best bet and where it will be crucial for RB – but if Hamilton’s on poll it’s irrelevant and as overtaking is hard to achieve then it’s no great advantage.

      2. If you’ve watched F1 long enough, you’ll know 1 lap pace means squat in a race. Mercedes are scary quick in race form and once Lewis rides off in the distance at the start, Red Bull will only be able to rue the season that got away.

    2. @banbrorace Yes so Verstappen was on the inferior tyres. He had to nurse them till the end and then they still went massively off near the end. How is it impressive that Hamilton kept up with a car struggling on strategy?

      The Red Bull car was comfortably half a second faster in Q3 and it’s unlikely that it would suddenly have been slower on race pace. But yeah with Verstappen bottling the race as well, we will never know how fast he could have gone I guess.

      1. Verstappen had brand new mediums and even though there were a few VSC incidents, explain why if he had so much more pace he didn’t go blasting off into the distance. You’d surely expect him to get a 5/6s lead at least until Lewis would, then inevitably peg tem back – as did RB otherwise they wouldn’t have done it.

        If RB didn’t expect that to happen, then they’ve suddenly become poor at strategy, i.e. if the hards were just as good, which is what you’re implying, then why didn’t they put them on?

        They surely can’t have been daft enough to think that position alone, would protect Max against Lewis. Everyone knew that a slower car was a sitting duck down the back straight. Max got his great one lap speed from S2.

        I never thought for one minute, assuming they both stay on track, that Lewis wasn’t winning that race. There was a desperation about how RB set up for that fastest lap.

        1. Max’s tires went off as he slid through the corner blocking Hamilton.

        2. Broderick I see what you are saying but I think you also have to figure that whatever the tires it’s not just a question of raw pace potential at the time. Drivers have to “bring in” both tires to make them last the projected time. Hamilton had the longest lasting tires so he just put the hammer down and said, from lap 1 (restart), I’m going to make you work those tires to the cords and see who runs out of tires first.

          Even if the mediums had 1s in them advantage over the hards, that was a 1s Verstappen was going to have to wring out every single lap until the tires died. He could not let up. Hamilton didn’t care if he rooted his hard tires in the process, he knew that his would go farther. That’s why the mediums were a bad choice for Verstappen–they were just the wrong tire for the second stint and the wrong tire for a battle with a comparable pace car over any meaningful period. Andy Shovlin take a bow.

  9. Mercedes look very, very strong on race pace!

    1. What session were you watching? Perez was faster than both Mercedes and Verstappen was a second a lap quicker, but was on the soft tyre.

  10. I wonder if even the AWS AI can make anything of these lap times on the “what we learned from Friday” analysis on Formula1.com. Seems like we need to wait until the sandbags are removed.

  11. Karun Chandock, has a good video on the wheel to wheel battles between Hamilton and Verstappen


    I still expect a showdown on track, Rbr will be competitive.

    1. Sadly not available in my country.

      British Bias strikes again.

  12. petebaldwin (@)
    10th December 2021, 19:26

    That’s a shame. Looks like we might not get the exciting final race we were hoping for. Hopefully Red Bull can find some more pace…

  13. geoffgroom44 (@)
    10th December 2021, 19:53

    Very happy to see Kimi was OK

Comments are closed.