Max Verstappen’s first action of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend ended with him in his familar position at the top of the timesheet.
Unlike in the first hour’s running of the weekend, all 20 regular drivers of the 2022 season were out on track after several of them had sat out FP1 to make way for inexperienced and test drivers, most of which had been brought in to fulfil the rookie requirement introduced this year.
One of those to spend the morning watching on in the garage was Verstappen, who stepped aside for Liam Lawson, but in FP2 he was straight on the pace as Red Bull hit back at Mercedes.
Mercedes had finished 1-2 in FP1 for the second consecutive track session, having achieved that feat at the Brazilian Grand Prix five days earlier when Russell scored his maiden F1 victory ahead of Hamilton.
Verstappen was reporting a “very bad” brake pedal early in the session but still found himself over half a second ahead with 20 minutes gone, while Hamilton waved a questioning hand at Kevin Magnussen after coming across a very slow Haas ahead of him in a braking zone.
As darkness began to fall, the double World Champion improved his best time to a 1:25.146, putting him over a third of a second ahead of Russell as race simulations became the priority for the closing stages of the session.
Entering the last 10 minutes, Daniel Ricciardo’s car was back in the garage with an oil leak to curtail his last FP2 session for McLaren – having earlier reported a slippery area in the pit box that was causing him some concern.
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:25.146
2 George Russell Mercedes +0.341
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.453
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.615
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.706
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.786
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.892
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine +0.897
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +0.978
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1.154
11 Lando Norris McLaren +1.231
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1.249
13 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo +1.333
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1.401
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1.534
16 Alexander Albon Williams +1.604
17 Mick Schumacher Haas +1.693
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.769
19 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1.890
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams +2.116