Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Valtteri Bottas has led the way in second practice for Mercedes, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas has set the pace in the second practice session, taking over as fastest man from Max Verstappen after the Dutch driver set the pace in the morning.
With dusk descending and the floodlights gradually providing the light for the drivers, the second session was much more representative of the conditions the drivers will race in on Sunday.
The first 20 minutes or so of the session was dedicated to Pirelli tyre testing, with the drivers running 2021 prototype compounds for the C4 that will be used next year. All were required to put in 8 timed laps minimum on these tyres.
Switching to the usual Mediums and Softs, the times started to come down quickly with Valtteri Bottas putting in a 1:36.276 on the Medium to stay 0.203 clear of Hamilton by the chequered flag. Hamilton had some minor gear selection issues late in the session, stopping in the pitlane as he reset the car by turning it off and on again. He also changed the steering wheel during a stop during the session, something Mercedes say was a planned switch rather than in response to an issue.
The session had a minor delay in the last fifteen minutes, with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen bringing out the red flags. His Ferrari power unit appeared to suffer a failure and, with flames spewing from the back of the car, he was told to pull over and stop. Jumping out, Raikkonen helped the marshals tend to the fire. It’s likely the Finn will need some new engine components as a result of the flames.
Another driver having technical difficulties was Williams’ George Russell. He came back into the pits with smoke coming from the rear of his FW43 and appears to have suffered an electrical issue, possibly with the MGU-K. If he needs a change of any parts, he will take a grid penalty.
Max Verstappen was the closest challenger to the two Mercedes drivers, coming in 0.7 down on Bottas’ best time on the same Medium compound.
Alex Albon was a further quarter of a second behind, in the second Red Bull, with his best time set on the Softs. Lando Norris finished P5 for McLaren, ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Renault.
Sergio Perez, who will take a grid penalty this weekend, finished in P7 for Racing Point. Charles Leclerc finished P8 and led Ferrari’s charge but was 1.2 away from Bottas’ time. Daniel Ricciardo finished P9, with Lance Stroll in P10 for Racing Point.