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Verstappen praises FP1 Red Bull stand-in: Exactly what we needed

Max Verstappen topped the timesheets in Free Practice 2 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, despite sitting out the first session of the day while a rookie driver took the wheel of his Red Bull.

Max Verstappen has praised Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson after the young driver took the wheel of his car during Free Practice 1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With several teams taking their final opportunity of the season to run a rookie driver in the session, Lawson was amongst those to hit the Yas Marina Circuit as Friday's action got underway. The New Zealand-born driver put in 22 laps during the hour and recorded the fifth fastest time, one place behind fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez. While Verstappen had to watch on from the sidelines as Lawson drove his car, the World Champion was impressed by the job that his stand-in did. Verstappen went on to top the timesheets in FP2 with his RB18.

Verstappen praises Lawson

"I'm really happy with how that session went, I think the car came together well," Verstappen said after the final practice hour of the day. "Liam did a really good job in FP1, he was calm and steady which is exactly what we needed. "In FP2 we tried a few things and in the long runs the car was working quite well, so I'm pretty happy with that. "Weather wise, the temperature in FP2 was more representative of what it will be like during qualifying. "Of course, we’ll always try to refine a few things overnight, but we should be competitive in quali and the race."

Lawson reflects on 'cool experience'

Lawson – currently racing in Formula 2 with the Carlin team – was similarly happy with how things had gone during his FP1 experience. "It was a really cool experience today, it's the first time I’ve tested for Oracle Red Bull Racing during a Formula 1 weekend," Lawson explained. "I was a little bit nervous before the session, but the car is really good so I felt comfortable straight away. "We managed to get quite a lot of laps in on both the Hards and the Softs, at the moment there's a big jump between the two tyre types. "It was great to get the opportunity to try out the Softs. I drove the AlphaTauri in Mexico but it's difficult to compare the two as Mexico is a completely different track and at a much higher altitude. "Today was a great day and I'm thankful for the opportunity."

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