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Verstappen among eight F1 drivers absent as Hamilton leads the way in Abu Dhabi
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Verstappen among eight F1 drivers absent as Hamilton leads the way in Abu Dhabi

Verstappen among eight F1 drivers absent as Hamilton leads the way in Abu Dhabi

F1 News

Verstappen among eight F1 drivers absent as Hamilton leads the way in Abu Dhabi

Verstappen among eight F1 drivers absent as Hamilton leads the way in Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen was among eight F1 drivers to sit out the final first practice session of the season that saw Lewis Hamilton lead the way ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

A welter of rookies were given an opportunity to shine around the Yas Marina circuit, leading to Verstappen making way in his RB18 for junior Liam Lawson, his third FP1 outing of the campaign after driving for AlphaTauri in Belgium and Mexico.

Lawson was the quickest of the eight to enjoy a first practice run, and a superb fifth overall, finishing just over half-a-second behind pacesetter in Hamilton in his Mercedes who posted a leading time of one minute 26.633secs.

Hamilton spearheaded a Mercedes one-two, continuing the team's fine form from last weekend's São Paulo Grand Prix in which Russell won both the sprint and main race, with the seven-time champion runner-up at Interlagos.

Hamilton finished 0.220s clear of Russell, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez a further 0.035s further back, followed by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc fourth quickest, a third of a second down overall.

Behind Lawson was Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, finishing sixth on the timesheet in the final FP1 of his career ahead of the four-time champion embarking on retirement.

Vettel was 0.635s behind Hamilton and 0.161s clear of Ferrari's Robert Shwartzman, sitting in for Carlos Sainz in the F1-75.

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo was just under a second off the pace in eighth ahead of Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon in his Williams, the latter completing the top 10, 1.207s down.

Veteran Robert Kubica was given his latest run with Alfa Romeo, replacing Zhou Guanyu, and finished 14th quickest, with Logan Sargeant 15th as he took over the Williams from the departing Nicholas Latifi.

Four other rookies occupied the bottom four places, with Haas' Pietro Fittipaldi ahead of Pato O'Ward in a McLaren that had an early gearbox issue, with Alpine's Jack Doohan and Felipe Drugovich for Aston Martin 19th and 20th respectively.

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