Vettel heads close first practice session
24 November 2017 – Sebastian Vettel topped a close first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all represented in the top three, and covered by little more than a tenth of a second.
Vettel clocked a 1:39.006 on the Ultra Soft tyre compound to finish 0.120s clear of Lewis Hamilton, with Max Verstappen 0.028s further back.
It was a typically hot start to proceedings at the Yas Marina Circuit, with air and track temperatures hitting 27°C and 42°C, ahead of the twilight second practice session.
Behind the top three drivers, who swapped places over a series of Ultra Soft runs, there was a sizeable gap, with Kimi Räikkönen and Valtteri Bottas over half a second adrift.
Bottas, among other drivers, gathered some more data with the 'halo' cockpit protection system, which will be introduced to the sport in 2018.
Force India driver Sergio Pérez made a late improvement to lead the 'best of the rest' battle, ahead of McLaren-Honda pair Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.
Felipe Massa put his Williams ninth, as he started his final Grand Prix weekend, with the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo completing the top 10.
Mercedes-backed George Russell made his second practice outing with Force India, after his debut in Brazil, finishing up around a second adrift of Pérez.
Haas' Romain Grosjean took 12th, via a spin and tap of the barriers at Turn 19, followed by Williams' Lance Stroll and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, the latter recovering from a cold.
Renault pair Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hülkenberg sandwiched Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein in 15th and 17th respectively, Hülkenberg surviving a spin at Turn 14.
Ferrari-backed Haas tester Antonio Giovinazzi was another to spin at Turn 17 en route to 18th, as Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) and Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) brought up the rear.
Hartley is braced for another grid penalty for further power unit changes.
Friday's second practice session at Yas Marina will begin at 17:00 local time