Bottas leads a Mercedes 1-2 in 2nd Abu Dhabi GP practice

In a session that was interrupted with a red flag just before the end of the session when Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo caught on fire, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton ran 1-2 in their superior Mercedes.

Bottas turned a lap of 1m36.276s to lead Hamilton by 0.203s. Of course Hamilton always lets Bottas top the Friday times before putting him in his place during qualifying on Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton had to swap his steering wheel out twice – Steve Etherington Photo

Max Verstappen, who topped opening practice, was 0.770s behind in his Red Bull Honda. His teammate Alex Albon was 4th 0.987s behind Bottas while Lando Norris was a surprise 5th for McLaren.

Deleted lap times, traffic and small mistakes cost the top three, with none of them getting a fully representative lap in on the red-marked soft compound tires.

The big story from that session though was the fire suffered by Raikkonen. The rear of his C39 started spluttering flames, and cool as a cucumber the Finn calmly pulled over by a marshal post, put the fire out himself and kept a close watch on the action to ensure no unnecessary damage was done to his car.

Select Quotes


Valtteri Bottas
It was a decent Friday. The car felt good from the get-go, but there’s still a lot of work for us to do. The main focus will be to get the balance right throughout the entire lap, as I was struggling with the front end in some corners and with the rear end in the others. I also couldn’t really get the Soft tires into the window; I didn’t have any grip on my first lap, so I think they were too cold, but in the following lap they were already overheating, so there’s clearly some work to do. The Medium actually felt like a better tire for me, but that’s because we weren’t able to extract everything from the Soft today. It’s been a decent first day on track, but I’ll take it lap by lap and my targets are clear for the weekend ahead. I’m happy that Lewis is back with us again this weekend, it’s nice to see him back with the team and in the car.

Lewis Hamilton – LAT Images

Lewis Hamilton
I’m grateful to be back with the team and back in the car. I missed doing what I love last week, so I was very happy to arrive at the circuit this morning. It’s taken a good session and a half to get back into the flow even though it’s been such a short amount of time that I wasn’t in the car. The car didn’t quite feel the same as I had left it, so I’m now working my way back to feeling more comfortable balance-wise. We had an issue with the pedals and the brakes in FP1 which cost us around 40 minutes of track time, but the team did a great job to change everything so quickly; they have been flat out for three weeks now and still keep pushing. Otherwise, the sessions all went ok, the last one felt a bit better, although we didn’t get to do the long run at the end. We’ll get our heads down and work hard tonight, to be in the best shape possible for qualifying and the race.

Andrew Shovlin
We’ve had quite a tricky day overall. Lewis had an issue with his brake pedal assembly this morning that meant we lost the first bit of FP1 and he couldn’t run the Soft tire. We also had a problem with Valtteri’s throttle pedal that we changed as a precaution during the second session. Both those issues cost us a few laps and the red flag towards the end meant we didn’t get to do a long run on the Medium tire. In terms of pace we looked ok on a single lap. We didn’t get the best out of the Soft; it’s a difficult tire to optimize, and we’ll have a few more stabs at that tomorrow ahead of qualifying. We didn’t get a great picture of where we are on long runs as we only had a short stint on the Hard in the first session and the prototype tire in the second session. However, I think everyone is in a similar boat, so I don’t think we’re necessarily at a disadvantage, but we’ll be going into the race without the normal amount of information on the tires and the balance

Red Bull

Verstappen topped FP1 and already looks to be a force to be reckoned with here, even though he is downplaying his chances as it stands with respect to Mercedes. He was left frustrated by some timing issues in FP2 that led to him being held up by traffic and missing out on a representative lap on the soft tires. As for Albon, a spin in FP1 blotted his copybook but he bounced back well under the lights, pushing his teammate much closer than he managed in the earlier session.

Max Verstappen – FP1: 1:37.378, P1; FP2: 1:37.046, P3

“Today was ok and there is still a bit of work to do to close the gap to Mercedes who seem strong again but I didn’t get a lap time on the soft compound as I came up behind Perez on a long run so it’s hard to tell exactly what the gap is. We will see what the other drivers say about track limits in the briefing tonight but it’s Friday Practice which is always about exploring the limits and getting a better understanding of how wide you can go with the car. In qualifying we know we can’t go so wide and will pay more attention, but I don’t think it’s a big issue. The soft tire seemed to hold on ok so I think that will be ok for qualifying and we will see whether I can sit in a different Press Conference chair tomorrow.”

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Alex Albon – FP1: 1:38.547, P4; FP2: 1:37.263, P4

“Today was a pretty standard practice day when you’re just working through the usual items and working the tires to find out where that sweet spot is, but I was pretty happy and overall it was a good day. I think we need to look at the softs and how to work them better to get them into the right window, and also to stay in that window, but the mediums felt ok. It’s practice after all so I’m not really sure where Mercedes are based on today’s running but we’ll focus on ourselves, look at everything in more detail tonight ahead of qualifying tomorrow and see where we are.”

Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Racing Point

Sergio Perez – FP1: 1:38.956, P7; FP2: 1:37.506, P7

“I’m happy with the balance of the car and the progress we’ve made today – it’s just a shame we’ll be starting near the back [due to a change of Power Unit components] because I think we have the package for another good result. But it is what it is, and so our focus today has been on the long runs. We’ve been working hard to understand how the race is likely to play out and how the Pirelli tire compounds will behave. Obviously, FP2 is a really important session for this because it’s much more representative than FP1. Despite the interruption in FP2, I think we’re in a strong place, and we have a good idea of what to expect. There’s a lot on the line this weekend with the battle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, but we can go into qualifying with the pressure off and focus on the race. The goal is to fight our way into good points and see how high we can finish on Sunday.”

Sergio Perez – his last F1 race for awhile

Lance Stroll – FP1: 1:38.831, P6; FP2: 1:37.560, P10

“It’s great to enter a new weekend off the back of a strong result last time out, it gives everyone a bit of a lift heading into another race. The car feels good out on track and we were able to make improvements across both sessions. We completed our program as planned and we managed to do both short and long runs, so I think we’re in a good place heading into Saturday. We’re in a really close fight for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship and the goal is to score some good points and make sure we’re still in P3 at the end of the race. It’s up to us to extract everything from the package and execute a good race. I’m excited about the challenge ahead.”

Lance Stroll


Carlos Sainz Jr. – FP1: 1:39.330, P11; FP2: 1:37.616, P12

“It’s been a bit of a better start than last weekend. The car immediately felt more in the window. Unfortunately, every time we put the Soft tire on today we didn’t have the cleanest of laps due to traffic, or we simply didn’t nail the set-up, so still a lot of homework to do regarding that tire and how can we extract a bit more from it. The Soft compound is obviously going to be the qualifying tire and looking at the standings today, with seven drivers in just two tenths, it’s crucial to find some lap-time on that compound. Time to analyze and get ready for tomorrow.”

Lando Norris – FP1: 1:39.352, P13; FP2: 1:37.438, P5

“A positive final Friday of the year. We made some good improvements, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do overnight. I think we can be happy with what we did, but we saw how close it was, so if we don’t maximize everything tomorrow we can easily be a long way off where we want to be. So, heads down tonight to try to get that little bit more out of the car and we’ll go again tomorrow.”

Andrea Stella, Racing Director

“Overall, it’s been a positive Friday in Abu Dhabi. This afternoon, we worked on aerodynamic items, with an eye on next year. This evening we had another opportunity to evaluate the 2021 tires, as well as quite a bit of work to do understanding the tires for this weekend. We have the C5 here – which is always an interesting compound to understand. Compared to FP1, we made some progress in FP2 and, overall, the car seems to have potential, even if it’s not easy to extract it all, but there are still plenty of opportunities for improvement. We’ll analyze the data overnight and make sure we’re ready for our final qualifying and race of the season.”


Sebastian Vettel – FP1: 1:39.670, P14; FP2: 1:38.198, P15

“We did quite a lot of work today but we have more to do, as we have still not managed to get the tires into the right operating window, especially when it comes to the Softs.

“For qualifying I think we will more or less find ourselves in the same position as last weekend. If we are able to put together a very good lap, maybe we can get to Q3, which would be positive for my last race with the team.

“I appreciated Charles’ nice touch in running today with a helmet dedicated to me. I hope we can give the fans something to cheer about this weekend.”

Vettel’s last race in the hapless Ferrari.  credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Charles Leclerc – FP1: 1:39.344, P12; FP2: 1:37.508, P8

“On a track like this, we expected to struggle a bit more, but in fact we seem to be in the mix with the guys we usually fight with. This is probably not going to be as good a weekend as the last one in terms of performance, but it’s definitely better than we had expected.

“The balance of the car evolves over the course of the lap, as you have little grip in the first corner and then you gain more and more throughout the lap. Let’s work tonight and hopefully, we can make a step up for tomorrow. I will also work on my driving as I am lacking a bit of speed here and there, but in the end it’s tomorrow that counts.”

Charles Leclerc. credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office


Esteban Ocon – FP1: 1:38.515, P3; FP2: 1:37.505, P6

“It was a pretty good Friday in terms of our short runs. We still have some work to do overall because our long runs aren’t where we want them to be, especially as that has been among our strengths this year. That does, however, give us something to work out over the weekend and I’m sure we’ll get there. Otherwise, it’s promising on the timesheets and it’s going to be very tight once again. Whether it’s a long track or a short track, it’s very close! I think qualifying will be interesting tomorrow, and we need to extract the best from the car. I’m ready for it.”

Daniel Ricciardo – FP1: No time set, P20; FP2: 1:37.508, P9

“If you’re going to miss a session in Abu Dhabi it’s probably better that it’s the first one as it isn’t representative for qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday because of the later start times for those sessions. I think the evening session today was pretty good for us and we hit the ground running straight away. We did plenty of laps and the car felt good for most of the session. With a couple of tweaks, I think we’ll be in a good place tomorrow. Qualifying is going to be really important here and, of course, it’s my last one with the team, so I’m looking forward to putting on a good show.”

Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer

“We’ve had a fairly decent day. Esteban had a fairly smooth run all day, however Daniel missed most of the morning. He had a problem that was easily fixable, but the car was stranded out on the circuit, so we missed nearly all of FP1. The later session ran better for him. In terms of short run pace, it’s very close, as expected, with probably eight cars within two tenths on the low fuel runs on the softs. We are right in amongst it and we can expect a close fight tomorrow night in qualifying. The long runs were broken up for everyone by a red flag so it’s a bit hard to see the race pace so far, but we will do our usual Friday night homework ready for tomorrow.”


Pietro Fittipaldi – FP1: 1:44.069, P19; FP2: 1:39.027, P19

“In FP1 we were trying things for 2021, so it was interesting to see how the car handled. For FP2 we went back to our standard car for this weekend focusing on more performance running, as FP1 we had prioritized long runs. So that’s when I got my first feel for the car this weekend. It was a bit of a crazy session. I had a yellow flag on my push lap on the softs on low fuel. I had to back off and push again. Then when we were going to start our long run, I saw the car of Kimi (Raikkonen) going on fire, so that meant we couldn’t get all the laps we had wanted in. It was still a good session and I was able to understand a lot of things. We have to focus now and hopefully we can make a step forward tomorrow. Overall, I’ve arrived a lot more confident into this race weekend, whether I’m in traffic or running around other cars, even with my procedures – my driving in general I’m a lot more confident with. All that definitely helps.”

Mick Schumacher – FP1: 1:41.235, P18

“I would say things went pretty smoothly today in FP1. I was getting used to the car – it’s such a big step from Formula 2 up into Formula 1, but I’m happy everything went well. I felt comfortable with every switch and then every switch change in the car. I started off on the hardest compound and got to do a few consecutive laps which was really good, every lap really counts as you’re building up the pace and learning where you can push into each corner. It was really just a matter of time and getting the laps in. We then went onto the softer tire, which was a huge jump – the difference in compound is something you really feel strongly. It was cool, really nice. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the car on Tuesday at the test.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP2: 1:38.504, P16

“I’d say it was a decent FP2. I actually thought the car felt better than it has in recent weekends, so that was nice to see. Hopefully we can build on that and find a bit more performance on the soft tires. I think we were very strong on the mediums. We’ll see if there’s anything special we can do for the race on Sunday. First, we have to see how our pace is, we need to see if we’re in line with the pace of Alfa Romeo and quicker than Williams. I think it’s been a good day though, now we have to try and build on that.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“It was quite an abnormal Friday for us with three different drivers – one doing his first FP1 and the other taking part in just his second grand prix. Let’s start with Mick (Schumacher), he did a good job this morning for his first time in our car. I think it’s fantastic to have Mick Schumacher participating in his first grand prix weekend in our car – that’s great for everyone at Haas F1. He did a solid job, he did what he was supposed to do, and he kept his nose clean. I think he learned a lot over the 90-minutes. We’re looking forward to Tuesday’s test with him. Pietro (Fittipaldi) started his second weekend with us. He worked on some testing in FP1 for 2021, so his lap times were not of any importance to us, we were working to get data. He had a lock-up in FP2, lost a few laps, but otherwise it was a solid performance. Finally, Kevin (Magnussen) – it was just as normal. He came back and did his job; it was pretty good considering he missed out in FP1. He surprised us and put in an extra lap at the end after the checkered to make sure he got as many laps in as he could.”

Practice 2 Results

1 Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas 1m36.276s
2 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas 1m36.479s
3 Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 1m37.046s
4 Alexander Albon THA Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 1m37.263s
5 Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team 1m37.438s
6 Esteban Ocon FRA Renault F1 Team 1m37.505s
7 Sergio Perez MEX BWT Racing Point F1 Team 1m37.506s
8 Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari 1m37.508s
9 Daniel Ricciardo AUS Renault F1 Team 1m37.508s
10 Lance Stroll CAN BWT Racing Point F1 Team 1m37.560s
11 Daniil Kvyat RUS Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda 1m37.596s
12 Carlos Sainz SPA McLaren F1 Team 1m37.616s
13 Pierre Gasly FRA Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda 1m37.900s
14 Kimi Raikkonen FIN Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen 1m38.068s
15 Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari 1m38.198s
16 Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team 1m38.504s
17 Antonio Giovinazzi ITA Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen 1m38.564s
18 George Russell GBR Williams Racing 1m38.817s
19 Pietro Fittipaldi BRA Haas F1 Team 1m39.027s
20 Nicholas Latifi CAN Williams Racing 1m39.132s