Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Valtteri Bottas led the way in second practice for Sunday’s final Grand Prix of the 2020 season in Abu Dhabi setting a time of 01:36.276s on the Medium tyre and speaking following the action he commented saying:
It was a decent Friday. The car felt good from the get-go, but there’s still a lot of work for us to do. The main focus will be to get the balance right throughout the entire lap, as I was struggling with the front end in some corners and with the rear end in the others. I also couldn’t really get the Soft tyres into the window; I didn’t have any grip on my first lap, so I think they were too cold, but in the following lap they were already overheating, so there’s clearly some work to do. The Medium actually felt like a better tyre for me, but that’s because we weren’t able to extract everything from the Soft today. It’s been a decent first day on track, but I’ll take it lap by lap and my targets are clear for the weekend ahead. I’m happy Lewis is back with us again this weekend, it’s nice to see him back with the team and in the car.
Lewis Hamilton was second fastest with a time of 01:36.479s and speaking following the action he commented saying:
I’m grateful to be back with the team and back in the car. I missed doing what I love last week, so I was very happy to arrive at the circuit this morning. It’s taken a good session and a half to get back into the flow even though it’s been such a short amount of time that I wasn’t in the car. The car didn’t quite feel the same as I had left it, so I’m now working my way back to feeling more comfortable balance-wise. We had an issue with the pedals and the brakes in FP1 which cost us around 40 minutes of track time, but the team did a great job to change everything so quickly; they have been flat out for three weeks now and still keep pushing. Otherwise the sessions all went ok, the last one felt a bit better, although we didn’t get to do the long run at the end. We’ll get our heads down and work hard tonight, to be in the best shape possible for qualifying and the race.
Chief Engineer Andrew Shovlin commented saying:
We’ve had quite a tricky day overall. Lewis had an issue with his brake pedal assembly this morning that meant we lost the first bit of FP1 and he couldn’t run the Soft tyre. We also had a problem with Valtteri’s throttle pedal that we changed as a precaution during the second session. Both those issues cost us a few laps and the red flag towards the end meant we didn’t get to do a long run on the Medium tyre. In terms of pace we looked ok on a single lap. We didn’t get the best out of the Soft; it’s a difficult tyre to optimise and we’ll have a few more stabs at that tomorrow ahead of qualifying. We didn’t get a great picture of where we are on long runs as we only had a short stint on the Hard in the first session and the prototype tyre in the second session. However, I think everyone is in a similar boat, so I don’t think we’re necessarily at a disadvantage, but we’ll be going into the race without the normal amount of information on the tyres and the balance.
Max Verstappen was third for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing with a time of 01:37.046s and speaking following the action he commented saying:
Today was ok and there is still a bit of work to do to close the gap to Mercedes who seem strong again but I didn’t get a lap time on the soft compound as I came up behind Perez on a long run so it’s hard to tell exactly what the gap is. We will see what the other drivers say about track limits in the briefing tonight but it’s Friday Practice which is always about exploring the limits and getting a better understanding of how wide you can go with the car. In qualifying we know we can’t go so wide and will pay more attention, but I don’t think it’s a big issue. The soft tyre seemed to hold on ok so I think that will be ok for qualifying and we will see whether I can sit in a different Press Conference chair tomorrow.”
Alex Albon was fourth in the second Red Bull with a time of 01:37.263s and speaking following the action he commented saying:
“Today was a pretty standard practice day where you’re just working through the usual items and working the tyres to find out where that sweet spot is, but I was pretty happy and overall it was a good day. I think we need to look at the softs and how to work them better to get them into the right window, and also to stay in that window, but the mediums felt ok. It’s practice after all so I’m not really sure where Mercedes are based on today’s running but we’ll focus on ourselves, look at everything in more detail tonight ahead of qualifying tomorrow and see where we are.”
Lando Norris was fifth fastest for McLaren Racing while Esteban Ocon was sixth for Renault just ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Daniel Ricciardo was ninth while Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten. Daniil Kvyat who was eleventh overall commented saying:
We managed to learn something about the car today and did a good number of laps, but I didn’t feel like we’ve got everything right, so we’ll do our homework tonight and understand what we can do to improve for tomorrow. The conditions between FP1 and FP2 were quite different and, as usual, the second practice session is much more representative for Quali and the race, so hopefully we can find these extra tenths tonight to get it completely right for tomorrow.
Sergio Perez commented on his final Friday with the BWT Racing Point F1 Team saying:
I’m happy with the balance of the car and the progress we’ve made today – it’s just a shame we’ll be starting near the back [due to a change of Power Unit components] because I think we have the package for another good result. But it is what it is, and so our focus today has been on the long runs. We’ve been working hard to understand how the race is likely to play out and how the Pirelli tyre compounds will behave. Obviously, FP2 is a really important session for this because it’s much more representative than FP1. Despite the interruption in FP2, I think we’re in a strong place and we have a good idea of what to expect. There’s a lot on the line this weekend with the battle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, but we can go into qualifying with the pressure off and focus on the race. The goal is to fight our way into good points and see how high we can finish on Sunday.
Carlos Sainz was 12th fastest just ahead of Pierre Gasly who set a fastest time of 01:37.900s and speaking following the action he commented saying:
Looking at the gaps today, I think it’s going to be really tight this weekend, with six or seven positions separated by one and a half tenths. The battle in the midfield is quite intense so it’s going to be very exciting for Quali and the race. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the car, we did our Option runs in the final laps of the session and we showed our pace, which makes me feel confident for tomorrow as I think we are going to be right in the mix. There are still a few things we’ll need to sort out, so we’ll work tonight to find those extra tenths to make sure we are ahead of the midfield rather than behind.”
Kimi Raikkonen ended the day in 14th place with a time of 01:38.068s however Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN will have a lot of work to do as he suffered a major fire and speaking following the action he commented saying:
The car felt good, at least keeping into account the different conditions in FP1 and the part of FP2 we could complete. As always, there is a margin for improvement and that’s what we are going to work on tonight. We couldn’t do too many laps on high fuel given the issue we had: of course that’s not ideal, but at least it happened to an engine and gearbox we were going to change in any case. It’s obviously a lot of work for the guys in the garage but we should be ok for tomorrow.”
Sebastian Vettwel was 15th just ahead of Kevin Magnussen who commented saying:
“I’d say it was a decent FP2. I actually thought the car felt better than it has in recent weekends, so that was nice to
see. Hopefully we can build on that and find a bit more performance on the soft tires. I think we were very strong on
the mediums. We’ll see if there’s anything special we can do for the race on Sunday. First, we have to see how our
pace is, we need to see if we’re in line with the pace of Alfa Romeo and quicker than Williams. I think it’s been a good
day though, now we have to try and build on that.”
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Antonio Giovinazzi was 18th and speaking following his time in the car he commented saying:
It’s been a relatively straightforward Friday, although our long runs were cut short by the red flag. I jumped back in the car after sitting out of FP1 and I got up to speed quickly in the first part of the session. We have some things to improve, as always on a Friday, but if we make the step forward we expect we should be in a better position. Let’s see what qualifying has in store and how we are going to do tomorrow.”
Robert Kubica was in the Alfa in place of Giovinazzi in Free Practice One and speaking after setting a fastest time of 01:39.905s ending the morning in 15th he said:
It has been an interesting day for us and a pretty positive one, at least until Kimi’s technical issue later in the evening. We had quite a few things to test in FP1, mostly for evaluation and for the long-term development of the car. It was a very challenging day for the guys in the garage, with quite a few things to change in a short time, but they did great. The conditions, with a green track and a lot more warmth than we’ll have in qualifying and the race, were not the easiest but I am pleased about our work. It’s always a good experience to drive an F1 car, especially after getting the feeling for it back in Bahrain.
Williams Racing’s George Russell was 18th with a time of 01:38.817s. The Englishman whose session ended early due to a suspected MGU-K failure which the team are currently investigating commented saying:
It was nice to be back, to see all of the team as this is where I have been for the last 18 months. We are all working hard to try and end the season strong. Throughout the sessions we struggled on pace, and Kimi (Räikkönen) and Kevin (Magnussen) looked really fast out there. We still have a lot of work to do for tomorrow to improve the car to fight for Q2, especially after having FP2 cut short. Our focus is to set the car up for Sunday so that we can go out there and give it our all.
The Haas F1 Team’s Pietro Fittipaldi was 19th and speaking following the action he commented saying:
“In FP1 we were trying things for 2021, so it was interesting to see how the car handled. For FP2 we went back to our
standard car for this weekend focusing on more performance running, as FP1 we had prioritized long runs. So that’s
when I got my first feel for the car this weekend. It was a bit of a crazy session. I had a yellow flag on my push lap on
the softs on low fuel. I had to back off and push again. Then when we were going to start our long run, I saw the car of
Kimi (Raikkonen) going on fire, so that meant we couldn’t get all the laps we had wanted in. It was still a good session
and I was able to understand a lot of things. We have to focus now and hopefully we can make a step forward
tomorrow. Overall, I’ve arrived a lot more confident into this race weekend, whether I’m in traffic or running around
other cars, even with my procedures – my driving in general I’m a lot more confident with. All that definitely helps.
Nicholas Latifi rounded out the order in 20th place and speaking following the action he commented saying:
It was quite a busy last FP1 of the year with a lot of important data for us to gather. Our programme today was focused on next year, rather than optimising performance for this weekend. However, we were expecting a bit of a challenge coming into this weekend from the nature of this track. We know the kind of corners that it has, and the layout is not ideal for our cars’ characteristics. We can make it better as we have an idea on the things that we need to improve, it’s just about getting them into place and seeing what we can achieve tomorrow