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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2023

Russell leads rookie-filled opening practice session at Abu Dhabi

The Mercedes drivers set the pace as several teams utilised the opening session to run their rookie drivers for the year.

Russell Abu Dhabi
To news overview © XPBimages

George Russell set the pace in the opening practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver set a fastest lap time of a 1:26.072, which was four tenths quicker than Felipe Drugovich.

Russell set the initial pace on the Medium tyres on a 1:27.673s, then improved when he switched to the Soft tyres midway through the session.

Drugovich was the highest placed of the non-regular drivers, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.

Carlos Sainz was sixth fastest ahead of Robert Shwartzman, who was within 0.027s of his best time on the Soft tyres.

Current F2 championship rivals Frederik Vesti and Theo Pourchaire were 12th and 14th quickset respectively.

Result Free practice 1 - Abu Dhabi

# Driver Team Time Tyre
Results are being loaded...

Rookies take over practice

Several teams used FP1 in Abu Dhabi as their last chance to utilise their mandated rookie outings as part of the regulations. A rookie driver has to be someone who has competed in two or fewer F1 Grands Prix.

At Red Bull they elected to replace both their regular drivers for the session, with Isack Hadjar and Formula E World Champion Jake Dennis stepping in for Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen.

IndyCar driver Patricio O'Ward stood in for Lando Norris at McLaren, while F2 racer Vesti replaced Lewis Hamilton and Pourchaire was in at Alfa Romeo replacing Valtteri Bottas.

Oliver Bearman replaced Nico Hulkenberg at Haas, while Jake Doohan and Zak O'Sullivan were in for regulars Esteban Ocon at Alpine and Alex Albon at Williams respectively.

Close call

Although the majority of the rookies managed to complete the session without any issues, but there was a close call between Sargeant and Doohan.

The Alpine driver was coming out of the penultimate corner unsighted on Sargeant as he swerved into his path, causing Doohan to take avoiding action.

The stewards will investigate the incident for "driving erratically" after the session.

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F1 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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