Red Bull driver Max Verstappen set the fastest lap time in what was a routine FP2 session in Abu Dhabi.
The Dutch driver sat out the first session to give Red Bull junior Liam Lawson some test time in a Formula 1 car and was determined to maximize his running ahead of qualifying.
Verstappen set a lap time of 1.25.164 which was a little over three-tenths quicker than Brazilian Grand Prix winner George Russell. The Mercedes driver was followed by Charles Leclerc and teammate Lewis Hamilton with Leclerc’s championship rival Sergio Perez only managing fifth.
In what was a routine session with no major issues, the drivers were able to bed themselves well into the conditions they will face in about 24 hours’ time.
Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10.
Despite being a practice session several of the drivers suffered from traffic during their hot laps. The first driver to have his lap compromised was Hamilton when the Haas of Kevin Magnussen got in the way.
Other drivers who came across traffic as they tried to set lap times were Sainz and Russell, with Russell’s race engineer coming on the team radio to apologize to his driver.
Given the tight nature of the Yas Marina circuit, especially on the racing line, the drivers and teams will need to be cognizant of where they come out on the circuit especially during Q1 tomorrow.
Will Mercedes challenge for a second win of the season?
While the favorite going into the weekend has to Verstappen, Mercedes will be happy with how their Friday progressed.
The Brackley-based squad has made significant progress through the year and is now starting to establish itself as the second-quickest team on the grid.
While this no doubt bodes well for their 2023 prospects, the team will be keen on ending the season strongly.