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What we learned from Friday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

What we learned from Friday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix



What we learned from Friday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

What we learned from Friday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas may have been the fastest man on-track across Friday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but that is little indication of what is to come at Yas Marina.

The Finn is guaranteed to start Sunday's race from the back of the grid after heading to the Emirates with a new Mercedes engine.

Additional power from a fresh power unit perhaps explained Bottas' advantage over his and Mercedes' rivals, and also perhaps caught out Romain Grosjean in a collision between the pair in FP2.

With Bottas out of the picture, things look pretty tasty between the rest of the front-runners, as well as the tight-as-ever midfield.

Hamilton heads battle for pole

Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were separated by just a tenth over a single lap of the Yas Marina Circuit.

The Ferraris were as quick on the straights as would be expected, although the strength through low-speed sections that helped them to victory in Singapore was not on show this time around.

Max Verstappen cannot be counted out in the fight for Saturday honours either. The Dutchman struggled through his soft-tyre qualifying run, actually losing time compared to the harder compounds in the early part of the lap.

Hamilton certainly has the form here. He took the very first pole here in 2009 and last year's was his fourth qualifying triumph in 10 outings, while Mercedes have been on pole each year in the V6 Hybrid era.

Given the circuit's tendency for processional racing, qualifying could be crucial, although Hamilton's race pace was favourable to his rivals, until Bottas and Grosjean's crash curtailed long-run efforts for some time.

Haas progress to go out the window?

Grosjean's collision with Bottas ill have been doubly frustrating for Haas and the Frenchman, given he had shown impressive pace all day on Friday.

Having split the Ferraris in FP1, Grosjean ended FP2 best of the rest, having used a brand new floor which it is hoped with unlock more pace from the car in 2020.

However, that floor was wrecked in the Bottas crash – the Finn diving up the inside from way back – meaning Haas could well have to revert to a previous-spec part.

Renault at risk?

Renault had to concede fourth place to McLaren in Brazil, but they could even drop another spot in the constructors' standings if Friday's pace is genuine.

Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were both outside the top 10 in FP2, while Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly were ninth and 10th-fastest respectively over the single lap.

Getting into Q3 is not always the benefit it should be in Yas Marina, especially if teams are stuck with soft tyres at the start.

However, if Toro Rosso can start far enough ahead of the Renault's, the French team's eight-point advantage in the standings might start to look particularly small.


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