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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022

Hamilton leads Russell to top Abu Dhabi FP1 as rookies return to action

Lewis Hamilton claimed P1 on the timesheets of Free Practice 1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez exchanged times amid their battle for second place in the World Championship.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace during Free Practice 1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a session featuring several rookie drivers.

Hamilton hit the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:26.633 on the Soft tyre, while Mercedes teammate George Russell was two tenths of a second back in P2.

Charles Leclerc claimed third, ahead of Sergio Perez in fourth.

Liam Lawson – at the wheel of Max Verstappen's Red Bull – took P5, and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top six in his final F1 weekend ahead of retirement.

Verstappen and Carlos Sainz were amongst the drivers sitting out the session, with many teams taking their final opportunity of the season to run a young driver in FP1.

Result Free practice 1 - Abu Dhabi

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A session filled with rookie drivers

There were several different names on the timesheets for the session, with eight teams opting to run a young driver.

Verstappen was replaced by Lawson at Red Bull, while Sainz handed over his Ferrari to Robert Shwartzman.

Amongst the others to take part were Jack Doohan at Alpine, Pato O'Ward for McLaren and Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich in for Aston Martin, while Williams 2023 hopeful Logan Sargeant returned in the FW44.

All seemed keen to hit the track in the early stages of FP1, but it was a difficult start for O'Ward, with the Mexican forced to return to the pits after experiencing an issue with the car.

Lando Norris – who had sat out the session to allow O'Ward to run – was seen looking on in the garage as the team worked on his MCL36. The issue was soon fixed and O'Ward returned to action.

Meanwhile, at the top of the timesheets, Perez and Leclerc exchanged times to alternate in P1. The two drivers are battling for second place in the World Championship.

As the session wore on, a surprise name topped the timesheets for a short while in the form of Alex Albon, while it wasn't all smooth sailing on the other side of the Williams garage.

A yellow flag was thrown at the halfway point of the session as Sargeant spun off the track after a lock-up at Turn 1. It is expected that the American will race for the Grove-based squad in 2023, should he acquire enough points on his superlicence.

Elsewhere, the Mercedes duo had been a quiet presence in the session before shooting to the top of the timesheets in the latter stages. The team arrive in Abu Dhabi off the back of their 1-2 victory last time out in Brazil.

Outgoing drivers take part

The session marked the final Free Practice 1 – for now – for some drivers, including the retiring Vettel, who finished an impressive P6 as he begins his final weekend in F1.

Also in action was Daniel Ricciardo, sitting in P8 on the timesheets. The Australian looks set to take a reserve driver role in 2023 with the aim of returning to the grid in 2024.

Other drivers who are expected to be absent from the field next season – Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi – sat out FP1, with Robert Kubica and Sargeant running at Haas and Williams respectively.

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F1 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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