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Bottas fastest but Verstappen keeps up the pressure – FP2 Report

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas has gone quickest in second practice for Sunday’s race at Yas Marina, but the Red Bulls are keeping the pressure on Mercedes.

While Max Verstappen was the quickest man in the opening practice session during daylight earlier on Friday, Mercedes came to the forefront in the darkness of FP2. Valtteri Bottas put in a best lap of 1:37.326 on the UltraSoft tyre to go just 0.044 clear of Verstappen’s Red Bull on the same tyre – a result that suggests RBR are more competitive than they felt they were coming to the long straights at Yas Marina.

Highlighting Red Bull’s pace was Daniel Ricciardo, who slotted into P3 and just under 0.2 off Bottas’ time. Lewis Hamilton finished P4 in the second Mercedes, although faces a stewards inquiry later today. This is because he missed the pit lane entry while coming into the pits at the end of FP1 – ending up back on the circuit as a result.

The Ferraris improved from their slow start to the weekend by finishing in P5 & P6 with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel respectively.

Outside the usual suspects in the top six, it was Haas leading the charge as Romain Grosjean slotted into P7 for Haas, with his teammate Kevin Magnussen in P9 – they were split by the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg. Esteban Ocon finished the session P10 for Force India.

Having finished FP1 slightly early due to technical trouble, Pierre Gasly was back in action for FP2 and finished in the same position he did in the earlier session: P11 for the Toro Rosso driver ahead of Carlos Sainz’ Renault and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren. The Spanish veteran changed to a special liveried helmet for the second session, with his car and helmet now emblazoned with tribute liveries to mark his final race in F1.

Sergio Perez was P14, just ahead of Charles Leclerc. The Sauber driver, making his first appearance of the weekend after Antonio Giovinazzi stepped into his car for FP1, finished in P15 ahead of Marcus Ericsson. Brendon Hartley was P17 in the second Toro Rosso, while Stoffel Vandoorne completed his final Friday as a McLaren driver in P18.

The two Williams drivers were at the very back. Lance Stroll finished P19, 0.8 clear of teammate Sergey Sirotkin, who also got his first laps of the weekend in after Robert Kubica drove the car in FP1.

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Thomas Maher

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