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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Lewis Hamilton set the tone for the final weekend of the Formula 1 season by dominating the second free practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday morning.
Driving his Mercedes, Hamilton clocked a time of 1 minute 23.691 seconds under the reflectors of the Yas Marina Circuit. Against all expectations, Alpine rider Esteban Ocon set the second fastest, 0.343 seconds ahead of the Briton.
Valtteri Bottas, competing in his last Mercedes Grand Prix, followed him in third, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, respectively.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel clocked in 14th by more than 1.5 seconds behind Hamilton, while his teammate, Quebec’s Lance Stroll, couldn’t do better than the 15th fastest time. For his part, Torontonian Nicolas Latifi finished 18th on the steering wheel. Williams ahead of Haas drivers.
Meanwhile, the managers of the two teams involved in the championship race reached a brief truce in front of cameras around the world.
Good luck. “I hope the best driver and best team win,” said Mercedes director Toto Wolff, shaking hands with rival Red Bull boss Christian Horner, for the constructors’ award.
“Exactly,” Horner replied by accepting the handshake.
Hamilton and Verstappen shine in the standings with 369.5 points – the first time since 1974 that two drivers have been tied before the final leg of the season – and the F1 title has not been fiercely contested for at least a decade.
Verstappen, just 24 years old, is trying to become the first Dutch driver to be crowned F1 world champion. He was in complete control of the title race until last month. Hamilton achieved three consecutive victories and eliminated the 19 point difference between him and Verstappen.
“You know, who would have said at the start of the season that we were going to be here today as the underdog to win this cup? It was an incredible adventure, to be partnered with Lewis, and a full world championship,” Horner said.
“No one has challenged (Mercedes) in the last eight campaigns. It’s been intense, it’s been frustrating at times, we’ve gone over our limits, we’ve been elbow, we’ve broken our opponents, we’re here for one last race, the title at the end. It looks like we’re in the series,” he added with a laugh. Famous TV show “Squid Games”.
Hamilton could now clinch his eighth world championship – which would be a F1 record. The only black rider in the series can break the long tie with legend Michael Schumacher, provided he crosses the finish line at the 5.28km circuit with 16 laps ahead of Verstappen on Sunday.
“Our only chance to win this championship is to beat Lewis, and we want to do that on the track,” Horner summed up on Friday.
Verstappen set the fastest time in his first free practice session earlier today.
Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen, competing in his last rally, suffered a violent off-track towards the end of his first practice session.
A third free training session will be held on Saturday morning, followed by a qualifying session.
The second session for free practice :
Lewis Hamilton (GB/Mercedes) 1:23.691 (26 rounds)
Esteban Ocon (France / Alpine Renault) 1:24.034 (29)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN / Mercedes) 1: 24.083 (29)
Max Verstappen (Netherlands / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 24.332 (25)
Sergio Perez (Mexico / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 24400 (26)
Fernando Alonso (Spain / Alpine-Renault) 1: 24.495 (27)
Yuki Tsutaka (Japan / AlphaTauri-Honda) 1: 24.532 (26)
Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:24.557 (29)
Carlos Sainz Fels (Spain / Ferrari) 1: 24.844 (29)
Pierre Gasly (France / AlphaTauri-Honda) 1: 24.940 (27)
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia / McLaren-Mercedes) 1: 24.959 (26)
Antonio Giovinazzi (ETA/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1: 25.108 (27)
Lando Norris (GB/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:25.153 (27)
Sebastian Vettel (Germany / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 25.195 (27)
Lance Stroll (Canada / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 25.385 (26)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1: 25.440 (23)
George Russell (GB/Williams-Mercedes) 1:25.549 (29)
Nicholas Latifi (Canada/Williams Mercedes) 1: 25.687 (22)
Mick Schumacher (Germany / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 25,784 (27)
Nikita Mazepin (Russia / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 26.336 (26)
Ranking of the first free practice session:
Max Verstappen (Netherlands / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 25.009 (23 rounds)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN / Mercedes) 1: 25.205 (27)
Lewis Hamilton (GB/Mercedes) 1: 25.355 (25)
Sergio Perez (Mexico / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 25.363 (24)
Yuki Tsutaka (Japan / AlphaTauri-Honda) 1: 25.378 (23)
Fernando Alonso (Spain / Alpine-Renault) 1: 25.625 (26)
Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Honda) 1: 25.822 (28)
Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1: 25.846 (20)
Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain / Ferrari) 1: 25.886 (26)
Sebastian Vettel (Germany / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 26.007 (26)
Esteban Ocon (France / Alpine Renault) 1:26.025 (25)
Lando Norris (GB/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:26.123 (26)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1: 26.189 (25)
Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1: 26.409 (25)
Lance Stroll (Canada / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 26.608 (26)
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia/McLaren-Mercedes) 1: 26.676 (29)
Jack Aitken (GB/Williams) 1:27.481 (27)
Nicholas Latifi (Canada / Williams-Mercedes) 1: 27.487 (27)
Mick Schumacher (Germany / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 27.698 (24)
Nikita Mazepin (Russia / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 28.305 (22)
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