Abu Dhabi FP1: Bottas Out in Front, Vettel in the Barriers

Taking full advantage of his new spec-4 engine, Valtteri Bottas led the way amidst a relatively subdued first practice in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 0.535 seconds, the Finn was clearly enjoying the extra power granted by his fresh power unit, albeit with the knowledge that he will drop to the back of the grid come Sunday.

Starting at 1pm local time, the early start compared to the 5pm start time for qualifying and the race means that traditionally, FP1 at Yas Marina does little to illustrate the broader race weekend picture, and that goes doubly so for the 2019 edition with Bottas essentially out of contention.

Nevertheless, Verstappen will be pleased to have edged third-placed Lewis Hamilton by a tenth, albeit with the Mercedes driver having his session interrupted by a sensor issue.

A further half-second back was the sister Red Bull of Alexander Albon in fourth, himself eight-tenths up on Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in fifth. For his part, Vettel caused a late annoyance for his team by spinning and bouncing his left-rear tyre off the turn 19 barrier with a little over a minute to go.

Behind Vettel, Haas managed to continue their habit of performing well when it doesn’t matter, with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen sixth and eighth respectively, Charles Leclerc in the middle of their sandwich.

Antonio Giovinazzi and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten, the latter getting a free pass to best teammate Daniel Ricciardo after an oil leak forced him to stop on track, bringing with it a lengthy red flag and a premature end to his session with half an hour still to go.