Lewis Hamilton has drawn first blood in the opening free practice session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and ahead of Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg in a Silver Arrows one-two and the two Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo followed in third and fourth respectively and both under half a second of Hamilton’s benchmark time.
After a dominant display at a wet and wild Brazilian Grand Prix which saw him bring the title decider down to the wire at this weekend’s season finale, it was advantage Lewis Hamilton in Free Practice 1 at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The Briton posted the benchmark of a 1:42.869 on the yellow-branded Soft tyres and was 0.374 seconds clear of Mercedes team-mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg who was second and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was third and a further 0.428 seconds adrift of Hamilton’s best time.
The other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo placed fourth and was ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who was fifth with the latter running the halo head-protection device early in the session.
Sergio Perez finished the session in sixth place and in-front of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari who was seventh and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz who took eighth.
Williams Martini Racing’s Felipe Massa who will be contesting his final Grand Prix this weekend took ninth and ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson who completed the top ten.
Force India’s reserve Alfonso Celis Jr. who replaced regular Nico Hulkenberg in the opening practice session placed 11th and ahead of Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean who was 12th with the latter encountering brake issues and suffering a spin at turn one.
The other Sauber of Felipe Nasr placed 13th and in-front of Esteban Gutierrez in the second Haas VF-16 racer who took 14th and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas who was 15th.
The two Renault RS-16’s of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen ended Free Practice 1 in 16th and 17th respectively.
The two McLaren-Honda’s of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button ended FP1 in 18th and 20th respectively with the latter on his possible final Grand Prix weekend finishing the session early after an ERS failure and Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein split the MP4-31 racers in 20th.
Manor’s reserve Jordan King who ran in the place of Esteban Ocon this session and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat finished the session at the rear with the latter suffering a left-rear tyre puncture and pulling off at turn eight.
Kvyat also ran the halo in the session.
The Full 2016 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Free Practice 1 Results Classification provided at the link: http://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2016/races/957/abu-dhabi.html.
Written by Michael Terminello