Despite a disrupted FP2 session, there was plenty of F1 news to talk about as the first day of the final grand prix of the year got underway in Abu Dhabi.
George Russell and Charles Leclerc topped a session each as drivers got reaccustomed to the Yas Marina Circuit and the 12-hour time difference from Las Vegas.
Away from the track there was more Lewis Hamilton to Red Bull fallout while Max Verstappen ruffled some feathers.
Max Verstappen’s pit lane duel with the Mercedes
Anyone watching along during FP2 would have noticed the sight of Verstappen squeezing his way past the two Mercedes into the pit tunnel as the Dutchman looked to get as much track time in as possible.
It could have been an incident that went wrong but Verstappen insisted he was in the right to do so.
“They have to move,” he said. “They’re all driving slow and I want to go out because we’re all limited on time and they just keep driving in the middle. And when I tried to pass, they tried to squeeze me in the wall, so a bit silly.”
Toto Wolff fires back at Christian Horner
The Hamilton-to-Red Bull story continued to bubble along with pretty much every party having a different version of events, but Mercedes boss Wolff was not best pleased by his Red Bull counterpart.
“I just don’t know what drives the guy,” he told media including PlanetF1.com.
“We don’t understand his thinking to come up with these things.
“I don’t know what drives him to come out with this. You’ve won the season. Be happy about it, [be] humble. Enjoy it.
“Don’t make comments about Abu Dhabi 2021, which are completely off the mark,” Wolff sighed. “…and character question.
“I just wonder what’s going on up there.”
Christian Horner defends comments
Horner meanwhile insisted it was an innocuous comment that has been spun out of control.
“It’s remarkable how much traction this has got, so thank you to the Daily Mail for going exclusively large on this item,” said Horner with a smile.
“It’s a question of he said, she said, who said, what said. It’s entirely normal for drivers – drivers’ representatives, drivers’ parents – to have different conversations during the course of the year.
“Look, we haven’t had any serious discussions with Lewis, there was never a seat available.”
Fernando Alonso set for new Aston Martin deal
There was good news for Fernando Alonso whose lengthy career in F1 looks like it is set to continue.
Despite having another year to go on his current deal, Aston Martin boss Mike Krack was asked whether there was any interest in keeping the Spaniard on.
“I think I don’t have to answer that question,” he said with a smile. “Absolutely.”
Carlos Sainz blames circuit for FP2 crash
As for the on-track action, Sainz was in the headlines for the wrong reasons after hitting the barrier at Turn 3.
Asked to explain what caused it, Sainz was convinced the track had changed.
“For some reason, there’s been a change in the track compared to other years. There’s two bumps – one at the exit of Turn 2 and one at the entry of Turn 3 – that is upsetting the car a lot with this new generation of car.
“It nearly caught me out in FP1. I changed a few things in the setup and the line trying to get rid of it and then for some reason – again in that lap – it surprised me. It must have been an angle, or the exact way that I took the bump, and it made me just a passenger from there on.
“We’ve seen before with this generation of cars that any of these small bumps can really make you spin, make you have a pretty heavy crash.
“So it’s not ideal, but it’s what it is. We will try and make it better tomorrow.”