Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set the quickest time of opening practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by just over a tenth of a second. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was third, two hundredths of a second behind four-time champion Hamilton.
Brazilian Grand Prix winner Vettel set a best time of a 1:39.006 on Pirelli’s ultrasoft tyre compound to finish 0.120 seconds ahead of Hamilton on the same compound.
Hamilton headed the order in the early part of the session logging a time of 1:41.135s on the soft tyres, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas focused on supersoft running.
However, when Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen moved to the ultrasoft tyre he immediately vaulted to the top of the timesheet and then, with another hot lap, improved to 1:39.741.
The Finn’s time at he top was limited, however, as halfway through the 90-minute session the Mercedes drivers moved to the ultrasoft and, as a consequence, moved to the top of the order.
Verstappen then showed his hand, his ultrasoft run netting him a time of 1:39.154 that left him just 0.028s behind Hamilton. Vettel then bolted on the purple-banded tyres to edge both.
The dropped Verstappen to third, almost four tenths of a second clear of Räikkönen, while Bottas dropped to fifth. There was then a half a second gap back to sixth-placed Force India's Sergio Perez. He was followed by Fernando Alonso. The McLaren driver failed to set a time in the first half of the session but when he did take to the track he immediately jumped into the top 10 using ultrasoft tyres.
Alonso ended the session 0.037s ahead of McLaren teammate Stoffel Vandoorne , with Felipe Massa, for whom this will be the final grand prix of his career, ahead of the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 23 1:39.006
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25 1:39.126 0.120
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 15 1:39.154 0.148
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 22 1:39.518 0.512
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 30 1:39.741 0.735
6 Sergio Perez Force India 24 1:40.293 1.287
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 20 1:40.522 1.516
8 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 15 1:40.569 1.563
9 Felipe Massa Williams 27 1:40.723 1.717
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 29 1:40.773 1.767
11 George Russell Force India 26 1:41.131 2.125
12 Romain Grosjean Haas 24 1:41.306 2.300
13 Lance Stroll Williams 27 1:41.581 2.575
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 29 1:41.646 2.640
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 23 1:41.748 2.742
16 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 26 1:41.752 2.746
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 26 1:41.864 2.858
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Haas 21 1:42.065 3.059
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 28 1:42.344 3.338
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 35 1:42.585 3.579