2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas Leads Red Bull in Free Practice

The Finn looks ready to take his long-delayed 2018 race win, and claim his second victory in Abu Dhabi.

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Practice
Clive Mason—Getty Images

Mercedes-AMG driver Valtteri Bottas set the fastest lap time in Friday's free practice sessions for the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo followed closely in second and third place.

Bottas will be eager to claim his first race win of the season in the final stop on the calendar, Abu Dhabi, where he won in 2017. The Finn has missed out on race wins multiple times in 2017 due to unfortunate circumstances or team orders taking their toll, some of which include China, Azerbaijan, Germany, and Russia.

His nearest challenger is Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen, who was less than half a tenth behind. Verstappen too will be looking to make up for lost opportunities, with his collision with Esteban Ocon in Brazil likely fresh in his mind. The Dutchman's Renault-bound teammate Daniel Ricciardo trails by approximately one and a half tenths and has Mercedes-AMG's five-time champion Lewis Hamilton and Scuderia Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen. Sebastian Vettel is a relatively distant sixth-fastest, more than a tenth behind his own Finnish teammate.

Haas' Romain Grosjean leads the midfielders by a healthy 0.17 over Renault's Nico Hülkenberg, and more than a quarter second over his teammate Kevin Magnussen. Esteban Ocon of Force India rounds out the bottom of the points finishers in what could be his final Grand Prix for the foreseeable future—his seat is expected to be occupied by Lance Stroll in 2019.

Other drivers for whom the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be their last include Sergey Sirotkin, Stoffel Vandoorne, Marcus Ericsson, Fernando Alonso, and possibly Brendon Hartley. Sirotkin will be replaced by fan favorite Robert Kubica, who will return to Formula 1 more than eight years after an accident nearly severed part of his right arm. Vandoorne will give up his seat for Sainz but has a backup plan driving for HWA (soon Mercedes' team) in Formula E.

Ericsson will be replaced by Ferrari prospect Antonio Giovinazzi, and in turn, will enter IndyCar. Alonso too is believed to be on a path that will lead to IndyCar, as McLaren confirmed earlier this month that it will return to the Indianapolis 500 and field Alonso as its driver. Hartley's fate is uncertain, but he is expected to be shown the door in favor of Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum.

A full list of each driver's best times and margin of improvement between sessions can be found below.

  1. Valtteri Bottas/Mercedes - 1:37.236, -2.216 from FP1
  2. Max Verstappen/Red Bull - 1:37.280, -1.211 from FP1
  3. Daniel Ricciardo/Red Bull - 1:37.428, -1.517 from FP1
  4. Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes - 1:37.443, -2.100 from FP1
  5. Kimi Räikkönen/Ferrari - 1:37.461, -2.956 from FP1
  6. Sebastian Vettel/Ferrari - 1:37.569, -2.884 from FP1
  7. Romain Grosjean/Haas - 1:38.060, -2.603 from FP1
  8. Nico Hülkenberg/Renault - 1:38.230, -2.793 from FP1
  9. Kevin Magnussen/Haas - 1:38.318, -1.917 from FP1
  10. Esteban Ocon/Force India - 1:38.402, -1.700 from FP1
  11. Pierre Gasly/Toro Rosso-Honda - 1:38.506, -2.165 from FP1
  12. Carlos Sainz Jr./Renault - 1:38.511, -2.077 from FP1
  13. Fernando Alonso/McLaren - 1:38.725, -3.588 from FP1
  14. Sergio Perez/Force India - 1:38.806, -2.269 from FP1
  15. Charles Leclerc/Alfa Romeo Sauber - 1:38.831 (No FP1 time)
  16. Brendon Hartley/Toro Rosso-Honda - 1:38.957, -2.180 from FP1
  17. Marcus Ericsson/Alfa Romeo Sauber - 1:39.502, -2.426 from FP1
  18. Stoffel Vandoorne/McLaren - 1:39.938, -2.176 from FP1
  19. Lance Stroll/Williams - 1:40.046, -1.447 from FP1
  20. Sergey Sirotkin/Williams - 1:40.935 (No FP1 time)
  21. Antonio Giovinazzi/Alfa Romeo Sauber - 1:41.662 (FP1 only)
  22. Robert Kubica/Williams - 1:42.992 (FP1 only)
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