Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2020

Verstappen shades Bottas as brake problem delays Hamilton

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix first practice

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Max Verstappen pipped Valtteri Bottas by three hundredths of a second in the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, returning from his Sakhir Grand Prix absence after testing negative for Covid-19 on Wednesday, was among the first drivers out on track in the first 10 minutes of practice. However, he was almost immediately struck by a brake problem, his engineer warning that disc temperatures were very high and Hamilton saying that he felt as though the car was constantly braking.

After he pitted, Mercedes worked extensively on Hamilton’s car. He was able to return to the track but only ran the hard tyre compounds, not setting a representative time, and finished the session fifth fastest behind Esteban Ocon and Alexander Albon.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2020
Hamilton returned for Mercedes after his one-race absence
Bottas led much of the session with a time set on soft tyres, without any apparent interruption in running despite being warned about Hamilton’s brake problem. He was beaten to the fastest time in the final half hour by Verstappen, both over a second clear of third-fastest Ocon.

Albon lost grip on a fast lap and spun at turn 11. He was able to continue, having not seriously damaged his tyres, and finished fourth fastest, more than 1.1 seconds back from Verstappen’s time.

Daniel Ricciardo missed most of the session after stopping on track within the first 30 minutes of running, without having set a lap time. Renault confirmed a loss of fuel pressure caused the stoppage. As Ricciardo’s engine was only to be used during today’s practice sessions, he will not have to worry about taking a penalty.

The same is not true for Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen, who are already doomed to start the race from the back of the grid following power unit component changes.

The Racing Point cars were sixth and seventh fastest, Lance Stroll slightly ahead of Perez. AlphaTauri were eighth and ninth, Daniil Kvyat leading Pierre Gasly by just one hundredth of a second, both having set their times on medium tyres.

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen completed the top 10. It was a largely unremarkable session for Ferrari, who finished 12th and 14th fastest, around two seconds off Verstappen.

George Russell, who headed Friday practice for Mercedes in Bahrain a week ago, led team mate Nicholas Latifi by more than half a second on his return to Williams. The Haas pair occupied the bottom of the times: Mick Schumacher, on his first real practice run during a grand prix weekend in Magnussen’s car, was three seconds ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi, who is substituting for Romain Grosjean again.

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix first practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’37.37826
277Valtteri BottasMercedes1’37.4120.03432
331Esteban OconRenault1’38.5151.13734
423Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’38.5471.16925
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’38.7441.36624
618Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’38.8311.45325
711Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’38.9561.57825
826Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda1’39.1501.77227
910Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’39.1601.78230
107Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’39.1991.82122
1155Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’39.3301.95227
1216Charles LeclercFerrari1’39.3441.96625
134Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’39.3521.97428
145Sebastian VettelFerrari1’39.6702.29219
1588Robert KubicaAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’39.9052.52719
1663George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’40.4463.06824
176Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’41.0633.68527
1850Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’41.2353.85723
1951Pietro FittipaldiHaas-Ferrari1’44.0696.69124
203Daniel RicciardoRenault3

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First practice visual gaps

Max Verstappen – 1’37.378

+0.034 Valtteri Bottas – 1’37.412

+1.137 Esteban Ocon – 1’38.515

+1.169 Alexander Albon – 1’38.547

+1.366 Lewis Hamilton – 1’38.744

+1.453 Lance Stroll – 1’38.831

+1.578 Sergio Perez – 1’38.956

+1.772 Daniil Kvyat – 1’39.150

+1.782 Pierre Gasly – 1’39.160

+1.821 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’39.199

+1.952 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’39.330

+1.966 Charles Leclerc – 1’39.344

+1.974 Lando Norris – 1’39.352

+2.292 Sebastian Vettel – 1’39.670

+2.527 Robert Kubica – 1’39.905

+3.068 George Russell – 1’40.446

+3.685 Nicholas Latifi – 1’41.063

+3.857 Mick Schumacher – 1’41.235

+6.691 Pietro Fittipaldi – 1’44.069

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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15 comments on “Verstappen shades Bottas as brake problem delays Hamilton”

  1. I wonder why are the trackside TV screens on for this weekend, even though no one’s on the grandstands? The hand gesturing between the Mercs, though.

    1. Maybe they were too lazy to remove all of them :).
      Did Schumacher even drive? I only saw him like 10 seconds. It was his first proper drive in a f1 car and they didn’t even show him.
      It is also (again) Renault’s final weekend as they get rebranded as Alpine next season.

      1. As normal with the second to last driver. I guess the only reason they showed him 10 seconds was because it was his first official session in F1. Why would they give him more time, because of his last name?

  2. Well, well. Off course Max set his time when the track was more rubbered in. But let’s hope he stays as close to the mercedes cars once Lewis gets up to speed too.

  3. My brakes are gone, Bono.

    Russell in Bottas’s car would be top of the charts.

    Verstappen has no business in Newey’s worst car matching the Mercs.

    1. Still slower than Kubica in a Ferrari engine though.

    2. Seems like the problem rather was that his brakes were never gone (for long) @deanfranklin!

    3. And we have the not at all suspect copying and pasting of the exact same comments from the account of Oconomo directly into this account, just as that poster is now trying to push the fake narrative that the RB16 is supposed to be an utterly terrible car with their alternative accounts.

      No doubt we will then see Oconomo reappearing to furiously try to distract attention from his blatant sockpuppeting to spam every thread with the same thing.

    4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      11th December 2020, 13:04

      @deanfranklin Newey’s worst car was the McLaren MP4-18. It was so bad and crashed so often the race drivers refused to test it and Ron instigated a “control” board over Newey’s designs which was the reason he left to join Redbull.
      Agree though, George would be faster than Bottas after only a week. Lewis not on his game yet but he will be by Q3 of qualy.

    5. Can we stop with this myth that red bull didn’t have a fast car this year. Max is almost always within 3 tenths of Hamilton. Gasly is driving Neweys worst car. Max had several chances to win this year including last race but made mistakes

      1. @carlosmedrano say it louder for Jekyll and Jekyll (Oconoma aka @deanfranklin )

  4. Kubica and Raikkonen in the Alfa together, must be one of the oldest pairings in F1 for a while?!

  5. Mick more than 2 seconds faster than Piero? Wicked

    1. @Oli definitely curious if there was any mitigating circumstances there, because that’s a massive gap! Good job Mick!

      1. Piero was doing testing for next year, Mick was not.

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