Max Verstappen sat out FP1 in Abu Dhabi giving his car for Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson, but was on the pace in FP2, finishing fastest of all and by a decent gap.
The double Formula 1 Champion did not miss much in FP1, as FP2 is the practice session that matters on Friday in Abu Dhabi as it is run in conditions similar to those of qualifying and the race.
After finishing FP2 fastest, over three tenths clear from second-placed George Russell, Verstappen reflected on his day in the office; he said: “I’m really happy with how that session went, I think the car came together well.
“Liam did a really good job in FP1, he was calm and steady which is exactly what we needed,” he added of Lawson’s FP1 appearance.
“In FP2 we tried a few things and in the long runs the car was working quite well, so I’m pretty happy with that. Weather wise, the temperature in FP2 was more representative of what it will be like during qualifying.
“Of course, we’ll always try to refine a few things overnight, but we should be competitive in quali and the race,” the Dutchman concluded.
Lawson: A really cool experience
Lawson spoke of his session in Red Bull’s RB18; he said: “It was a really cool experience today, it’s the first time I’ve tested for Oracle Red Bull Racing during a Formula 1 weekend.
“I was a little bit nervous before the session, but the car is really good so I felt comfortable straight away,” the Kiwi added. “We managed to get quite a lot of laps in on both the hards and the softs, at the moment there’s a big jump between the two tyre types.
“It was great to get the opportunity to try out the softs. I drove the AlphaTauri in Mexico but it’s difficult to compare the two as Mexico is a completely different track and at a much higher altitude.
“Today was a great day and I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Lawson concluded.
Sergio Perez was fourth and fifth in the first and second practice sessions respectively; he commented: “The car was good today.
“It was a very interesting two sessions, very different in the morning to the afternoon,” the Mexican added. “This morning was a bit tricky with the temperatures, which means the afternoon session is the one we really have to pay attention to, because it will be the most representative for the weekend.”
While Verstappen was happy with his RB18 on both long and short runs, Perez admitted his is still lacking pace in qualifying trim.
He said: “We are just exploring the balance around the car but generally, we feel we have plenty of information for tomorrow and more importantly, for Sunday.
“We are competitive in the long-runs but we have a bit of time to find in the short runs. There are a few bits to analyse to see where we can do better, it is very important here to have great race pace here,” the 32-year-old concluded.