FP1: Lewis Hamilton pips George Russell in yet another Mercedes 1-2

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton aerial shot at the Yas Marina circuit. Abu Dhabi November 2022

Mercedes’ run of 1-2 results continued in the opening practice hour for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a late swap to the soft tyres seeing Lewis Hamilton finish fastest of all ahead of George Russell.

For most of the session it was P2 protagonists Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez trading P1s, but that came to a halt when the Mercedes team-mates put on the soft Pirellis.

Hamilton clocked a 1:26.633 to finish 0.22s ahead of Russell, Leclerc third a further 0.035 down.

The final FP1 session of the season saw no fewer than eight test drivers take to the track as the F1 teams completed their mandatory young driver outings, with Williams’ likely 2023 driver Logan Sargeant on that list.

For four drivers – Sebastian Vettel, Nicholas Latifi, Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher – the session announced the start of their final F1 race weekend, although the latter two hope to return in 2024.

Pato O’Ward in the McLaren ran into early trouble, the IndyCar driver told to keep the car in second gear as he stuttered his way back to the pits.

Sergio Perez, in a battle with Charles Leclerc for P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, set the early pace with a 1:28.926. Leclerc was second, half a second down, with Liam Lawson in the other Red Bull P3.

With the track temperature up to 47C, Leclerc took over at the top before Perez pipped him, the P2 protagonists separated by 0.06s.

O’Ward was soon back on track, he and fellow FP1 rookie Felipe Drugovich the last two drivers to set times, everyone on the board in the first 30 minutes. Aston Martin were slowest of all with Drugovich ahead of Vettel.

Sargeant jumped up to fourth place behind Yuki Tsunoda and ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi. However, Sargeant then went and blotted his copybook as he lost it into Turn 1, the American narrowly avoiding nosing the barrier.

His potential 2023 team-mate Alex Albon went quickest but his reign was short-lived, the Williams driver overhauled by Perez before Leclerc hit the front, a 1:26.888.

Mercedes joined the party with 15 minutes to go, the Brackley squad swapping their hard tyres for softs with Hamilton P1 with and Russell following him up the table into P2. Hamilton was 0.220s up on his team-mate.

Eighteen laps into a medium-tyre run, one of only four drivers to run the yellow tyres in FP1, Tsunoda was complaining about a lack of grip as he went flying off the track.

Leclerc finished third ahead of Perez with Lawson fifth fastest ahead of Vettel. The Aston Martin driver was another to opt for a late swap to the red-marked tyres, improving from the bottom five to the top six. Robert Shwartzman was seventh ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Albon.

For Sargeant, the session marked another step, or point, closer to Formula 1 as he earned another Super Licence point having covered more than 100km.

Times

1 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes 1:26.633 21 laps
2 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.220 30 laps
3 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.255 22 laps
4 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.334 23 laps
5 Liam LAWSON Red Bull Racing +0.568 22 laps
6 Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin +0.635 20 laps
7 Robert SHWARTZMAN Ferrari +0.796 24 laps
8 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren +0.986 21 laps
9 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +1.022 23 laps
10 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.207 26 laps
11 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +1.212 28 laps
12 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.258 27 laps
13 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.358 28 laps
14 Robert KUBICA Alfa Romeo +1.431 22 laps
15 Logan SARGEANT Williams +1.465 23 laps
16 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +1.509 20 laps
17 Pietro FITTIPALDI Haas F1 Team +1.571 26 laps
18 Patricio O’WARD McLaren+1.717 25 laps
19 Jack DOOHAN Alpine +1.851 25 laps
20 Felipe DRUGOVICH Aston Martin +2.039 23 laps