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Verstappen on song as Schumacher to Mercedes rumours sweep F1 paddock
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Verstappen on song as Schumacher to Mercedes rumours sweep F1 paddock

Verstappen on song as Schumacher to Mercedes rumours sweep F1 paddock

Verstappen on song as Schumacher to Mercedes rumours sweep F1 paddock

Verstappen on song as Schumacher to Mercedes rumours sweep F1 paddock

Max Verstappen delivered in second practice as the sun set over the Yas Marina circuit despite sitting out the first session ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was one of eight on the current F1 grid to look on during the opening hour as teams gave their young drivers a chance in the spotlight, with veteran Robert Kubica the exception for Alfa Romeo.

Verstappen comfortably finished a third-of-a-second quicker than nearest rival George Russell in his Mercedes, posting a lap of one minute 25.146secs.

The conditions replicated those for qualifying and the race as dusk fell across the circuit, with the times far more representative than in FP1 when the sun was out and the temperatures were above 30 degrees Celsius.

Russell, fresh from his sprint and maiden grand prix win a week ago in São Paulo, had to settle for second best come the end of early soft-tyre runs before the teams and drivers switched to the medium rubber for the long runs over the second half.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was third quickest, 0.453s adrift, followed by Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes, with the Briton, who had been quickest in FP1, six-tenths of a second off the pace.

But it was a driver further down the field in Haas' Mick Schumacher that has set paddock tongues wagging with strong rumours he is to join Mercedes as a reserve driver next season.

Haas confirmed on Thursday it would be releasing Schumacher after two years with the team, with Nico Hulkenberg returning from a three-year hiatus - aside from the odd back-up drive - to fill the vacancy.

Mercedes is on the look out for a new reserve after allowing Nyck de Vries to drive for AlphaTauri, whilst Stoffel Vandoorne is switching to Aston Martin in a reserve role.

Daniel Ricciardo has been heavily linked following his axing by McLaren but is now due to return to Red Bull.

In FP2, Schumacher at least finished quicker than team-mate Kevin Magnussen as the duo sat 17th and 18th on the timesheet, just 0.076s apart but 1.7s behind Verstappen.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez was fifth fastest, 0.706s adrift, followed by Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari and Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, the latter nine-tenths down.

Ricciardo was ninth quickest, and the only other driver to finish within a second of Verstappen, with Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas completing the top 10, 1.154s back.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix second practice results

1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] 1:25.146s

2. George Russell [Mercedes] +0.341s

3. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.453s

4. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.615s

5. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.706s

6. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.786s

7. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +0.892s

8. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +0.897s

9. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +0.978s

10. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] +1.154s

11. Lando Norris [McLaren] +1.231s

12. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.249s

13. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] +1.333s

14. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.401s

15. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.534s

16. Alexander Albon [Williams] +1.604s

17. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +1.693s

18. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] +1.769s

19. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +1.890s

20. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.116s

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