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Sebastian Vettel

Abu Dhabi FP1: Vettel retains the momentum

Sebastian Vettel

Fresh from his victory in Brazil, Sebastian Vettel signalled his intent by topping the first free practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, ahead of the World Champion Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes.

Although Vettel has won at the seven-star Yas Marina Circuit on three occasions but his Ferrari team have yet to score a victory at the venue. 

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The German topped the timing screens at the end of the 90 minutes session with the best time of 1:39.006 was a shade over a tenth of a second faster than Hamilton, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third quickest not far off the leading duo.

Fourth fastest, half a second adrift of the top time, was Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in fifth.

Sergio Perez showed handy pace in the Force India, albeit 1.2 seconds down on Vettel’s best time in seventh. The Mexican was a tad quicker than the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne in seventh and eighth respectively.

Driving in his final FP1 session in Formula 1 was Williams driver Felipe Massa, ending the session ninth and Daniel Ricciardo rounding out the top ten in the Red Bull.

George Russell, on duty in place of Esteban Ocon in the Force India, impressed with the 11th best time.

With both championships wrapped up, Mercedes having clinched their fourth successive constructors’ title in Texas last month, most teams used the session as an early test for 2018.

Some also tried out the ‘halo’ head protection device that will be introduced next year.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit – Free Practice 1, Fastest Laps