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Formula 1: Verstappen leads Russell, Leclerc in second practice in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, Nov 18 (IANS) Red Bull driver Max Verstappen outpaced the Mercedes’ George Russell and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the second practice at the Yas Marina Circuit here on Friday.

One of eight drivers to sit out first practice for various ‘rookie’ runs, Verstappen quickly got up to speed in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to produce a benchmark time of 1m 25.146s on the soft compound tyre.

Russell finished three-tenths back after encountering traffic in the final sector of his push lap on the red-marked rubber.

Leclerc was another tenth adrift in third, followed closely by first-practice pace-setter Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.

Alongside Verstappen and Sainz, there were returns to the cockpit for Lando Norris (McLaren), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Nicholas Latifi (Williams), Fernando Alonso (Alpine), Mick Schumacher (Haas) and Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo).

Alonso, wearing a Sebastian Vettel tribute helmet, took eighth, just behind teammate Esteban Ocon, as McLaren pair Daniel Ricciardo and Norris placed ninth and 11th respectively, sandwiching Valtteri Bottas, who kept his Alfa Romeo in the top 10.

Ricciardo endured a tricky session, starting with a wild moment through the high-speed Turn 3, which prompted him to pit for set-up changes, before reporting trouble stopping on his marks in the pit lane due to a “slippery patch” and then being delayed by an oil leak.

Vettel survived a huge lock-up en route to 12th as his farewell weekend continued, edging out the other Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu, teammate Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.

Earlier, Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes to a 1-2 finish in the first Formula 1 practice with the seven-time champion beating teammate George Russell by just over two-tenths of a second. Charles Leclerc was third for Ferrari, just under a tenth ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Leclerc and Perez, who are locked on 290 points each in the battle for P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, set the pace in the early part of the session, with both on soft tyres, but in the final quarter hour, the Mercedes drivers bolted on the red-banded tyres and jumped to the top of the order.

Hamilton’s best lap 1:26.633 was good enough to put him 0.220s clear of Russell who took his maiden F1 at last weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

–IANS

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