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Raikkonen turns fire marshal as Bottas ends final Friday on top

Raikkonen turns fire marshal as Bottas ends final Friday on top

F1 News

Raikkonen turns fire marshal as Bottas ends final Friday on top

Raikkonen turns fire marshal as Bottas ends final Friday on top

Kimi Raikkonen turned marshal during the final Friday practice session of an intense Formula 1 season after his Alfa Romeo caught fire.

With 18 minutes remaining of FP2 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Ferrari power unit burst into flames, leading to the Finn pulling off track.

As the fire caught, and a marshal came to his aid, Raikkonen took over the handling of the extinguisher, steering the nozzle into the key areas to ensure it did not reignite.

The fire caused a 12-minute delay to the session that was spearheaded by Valtteri Bottas ahead of returning team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Neither driver managed to set a time in qualifying set-up on the soft tyres, with Bottas running wide on the exit of turn one on his run, while Hamilton exceeded track limits on his flying lap.

The Finn still finished top of the timesheet with a lap of one minute 36.276s, two-tenths of a second clear of Hamilton, both on the medium compound, as was Max Verstappen in his Red Bull who was third quickest, 0.770s down.

The session ended bizarrely for Hamilton as he stopped in the pitlane in front of the Haas pitbox, complaining he was unable to find any gear.

As his crew raced to help him, Hamilton removed his steering wheel, placed it back on and was able to resume. Earlier in the session, the seven-time champion had swapped his steering wheel completely before continuing.

In conditions more representative of those that will be encountered for qualifying and the race as dusk settled over the track, compared to the afternoon sunshine for FP1, the session was not plain sailing for all the teams.

Just before Raikkonen's engine caught fire, George Russell also encountered his own PU issue, resulting in his crew changing the battery.

Behind the leading trio, Red Bull's Alex Albon was fourth quickest, finishing a quarter of a second behind team-mate Verstappen, with McLaren's Lando Norris then at the front of a queue of eight drivers who were covered by under two-tenths of a second, down to team-mate Carlos Sainz in 12th.

Sandwiched in between were Renault's Esteban Ocon, Racing Point's Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari, the second Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll for Racing Point and AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat.

Raikkonen ended up 13th in the standings, 1.792s behind Bottas, while Russell was 18th on his return to Williams after his substitute role for Hamilton in the Sakhir GP, with the Briton 2.541s down. Team-mate Nicholas Latifi brought up the rear.

The session started with all drivers running the rule over one of Pirelli's compounds for 2021, with each required to complete at least eight timed laps.

It resulted in an impromptu tyre test for the 20 minutes, which culminated in Bottas and Hamilton finishing a second clear of the field.

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