FP2: Bottas fastest again, despite tangle with Grosjean
Fastest in the Abu Dhabi sun, Valtteri Bottas once again showed his pace by topping the second practice session of the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix under floodlights, a full three-tenths of a second ahead of Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in P3. But it wasn’t all good news for the Finn, who brought out a red flag by colliding with Haas’ Romain Grosjean with 20 minutes remaining…
This crucial practice session started as the sun set, casting a resplendent glow on Yas Marina Circuit – where conditions were more representative of Sunday’s race than the first practice session, which Bottas – facing a back-of-the-grid start on Sunday – also led.
His fastest lap came on a much cooler track this time, when the teams shod soft tyres for their qualifying runs. Bottas managed to set a flying lap of 1m 36.256s, the fastest of the weekend so far, to put himself 0.310s of Hamilton.
The Finn also back-to-back tested front wings for Mercedes in what looked like a perfectly productive session – until Bottas attempted to pass Haas’s Romain Grosjean with a late dive into Turn 11 that left the Mercedes’ front wing and the Haas’ floor in tatters with 20 minutes left.
The red flag, brief though it was, interrupted the teams’ race runs and the stewards will investigate the incident.
As for Hamilton, hoping to win a fifth Abu Dhabi GP, he began the session complaining of a problem with the downshifts in his W10 but shrugged those off to finish 0.076s faster than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari’s weekend didn’t start ideally as Sebastian Vettel ended FP1 with a red flag having crashed into the outside wall of Turn 19. Leclerc almost replicated the crash with a tap of the Turn 19 barrier but continued to finish fastest in the first two sectors and third overall, while Vettel was a tenth behind in P4.
While Max Verstappen finished FP1 second-fastest and 0.535s behind Bottas, this time around he was 0.551s behind the Mercedes leader and in fifth-place. Verstappen’s fastest lap was half a second faster than his Red Bull team mate Alex Albon’s, however.
In seventh-place it was Haas’s Grosjean – whose session was brought to a halt after that collision with Bottas – as he finished three-tenths behind Albon. His team mate Kevin Magnussen was 14th, half a second slower than Grosjean.
Sergio Perez has scored points in every Abu Dhabi GP since 2013 and finished a promising P8 in FP2, 0.014s ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat’s team mate Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10 that was split by 1.514s.
Renault made quick work of replacing Daniel Ricciardo’s engine after he retired from FP1 with an oil leak, but the Australian finished 0.015s behind P15 team mate Nico Hulkenberg and ahead of Alfa Romeo and the Williams pair.