Hamilton returns as Verstappen leads the way early on in Abu Dhabi
Lewis Hamilton shook off the effects of his recent self-isolation from Covid-19 with a straightforward run-out in a first practice session for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that was topped by Max Verstappen.
Hamilton, who only flew into the UAE on Thursday afternoon after returning negative results on numerous Covid tests since contracting the virus 11 days previously while in Bahrain, completed 24 laps in the cockpit of his Mercedes W11.
There was an early issue with the brakes for Hamilton and Mercedes to contend with, notably the front-left that locked on occasion, although it was resolved after around 20 minutes.
The seven-time F1 champion finished fifth quickest with a time of one minute 38.744 seconds, albeit set on the hard tyre compared to the four drivers ahead of him whose best laps were all posted on the soft compound.
Verstappen led the way with a lap of 1:37.378s, just 0.034s ahead of Valtteri Bottas in his Mercedes, with third-quickest Esteban Ocon in his Renault a full second adrift.
Alex Albon, in a pivotal weekend for his career, as his future remains unclear, was fourth quickest, 1.169s down on team-mate Verstappen, and suffering a spin along the way which saw him flat-spot a set of soft tyres that will not have helped his cause.
Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly were eighth and ninth on the timesheet, both on the medium tyre, separated by a mere 0.010s, with Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen completing the top 10, with the Finn 1.821s behind Verstappen.
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