Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton leads Russell in first F1 practice

Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes to a 1-2 finish in the first Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as seven young drivers featured in the session.

Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton leads Russell in first F1 practice
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Five days after Mercedes ended its win drought in 2022 with victory in Brazil, the silver cars once again rose to the head of the running order during the daytime practice at the Yas Marina Circuit.

The early part of the session saw Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc - who go head-to-head for second place in the championship this week - trade fastest laptimes on the soft compound tyre.

While the likes of Alex Albon and Valtteri Bottas briefly occupied P1 on their soft tyre runs, it was Leclerc who pulled seven hundredths of a second clear of Perez at the top with 20 minutes remaining in the session.

But Mercedes gave Hamilton and Russell a chance to put in an effort on the soft compound tyre with 15 minutes remaining, allowing both drivers to shoot up the order.

Hamilton put in a fastest laptime of 1m26.633s to take top spot in opening practice, with Russell taking P2 moments later, lapping 0.220s off his teammate's effort.

Although it was a positive first indication for Mercedes in Abu Dhabi, both qualifying and the race will start three hours later than FP1 did, meaning conditions will be vastly different at dusk and into the night.

Leclerc and Perez were left to settle for third and fourth place respectively, while Liam Lawson finished as the top young driver in the session with P5 for Red Bull.

Lawson was one of seven youngsters taking part in FP1 as teams completed their rookie driver requirement for practice sessions this year, giving an opportunity to those with two grand prix starts or less.

Lawson put in some impressive times on the hard compound tyre in the early part of the session before rising up to fifth on softs late on, with the only minor issue coming when he turned into his pit box and required a push after narrowly overshooting the turn-in angle. Lawson told Red Bull over the radio he was used to driving further down the pitlane.

Sebastian Vettel took sixth place for Aston Martin in his final FP1 session as an F1 driver. Before getting into the cockpit, he was greeted by his father, Norbert, in the garage, and presented with his first racing gloves and race suit from when he was a child.

Robert Shwartzman finished seventh for Ferrari in his second FP1 outing of the season for the team, while Daniel Ricciardo slotted into eighth place for McLaren. Bottas and Albon rounded out the top 10 after being shuffled down the order following their earlier efforts.

AlphaTauri drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda finished 11th and 13th respectively in FP1, split by Gasly's future Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon in 12th. Robert Kubica made his fourth FP1 appearance of the year for Alfa Romeo, finishing 14th in place of Zhou Guanyu.

Logan Sargeant took another step towards gaining his FIA superlicence by racking up the 100km required through the session for Williams, finishing 15th overall. Sargeant narrowly avoided ending his session early when he spun out at Turn 1, stopping just short of the barrier before getting going again.

Kevin Magnussen finished 16th for Haas ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi, the team's reserve driver, who faced criticism for Gasly after darting between the AlphaTauris on the back straight.

McLaren IndyCar driver Pato O'Ward made his F1 race weekend debut, taking over from Lando Norris in the MCL36. But the session did not start as planned for the Mexican, who reported an issue on his out-lap and was told to return to the pits in second gear at slow speed.

McLaren managed to rectify the issue, allowing O'Ward to get back on track 20 minutes later. He ultimately racked up 22 laps en route to 18th place.

Formula 2 race winners Jack Doohan and Felipe Drugovich rounded out the pecking order for Alpine and Aston Martin respectively. It marked the first FP1 outing for Drugovich, who ended 1.3 seconds off Vettel's time in the sister car.

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 21 1'26.633  
2 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 30 1'26.853 0.220
3 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 22 1'26.888 0.255
4 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 23 1'26.967 0.334
5 New Zealand Liam Lawson Red Bull Red Bull 22 1'27.201 0.568
6 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes 20 1'27.268 0.635
7 Russian Federation Robert Shwartzman Ferrari Ferrari 24 1'27.429 0.796
8 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 21 1'27.619 0.986
9 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 23 1'27.655 1.022
10 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 26 1'27.840 1.207
11 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Red Bull 28 1'27.845 1.212
12 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 27 1'27.891 1.258
13 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 28 1'27.991 1.358
14 Poland Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Ferrari 22 1'28.064 1.431
15 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 23 1'28.098 1.465
16 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 20 1'28.142 1.509
17 Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi Haas Ferrari 26 1'28.204 1.571
18 Mexico Patricio O'Ward McLaren Mercedes 22 1'28.350 1.717
19 Australia Jack Doohan Alpine Renault 25 1'28.484 1.851
20 Brazil Felipe Drugovich Aston Martin Mercedes 23 1'28.672 2.039

 

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