Hamilton leads in first practice in Abu Dhabi 2022
Friday marked the beginning of the end for the 2022 F1 season as drivers took to the track at the Yas Marina Circuit during FP1, which saw Mercedes continue where they left off in Brazil with another one-two result, and plenty of unfamiliar faces gain some track time.
While Lewis Hamilton clocked a time of 1m 26.633s to lead the way from team mate and Sao Paulo Grand Prix winner George Russell, no fewer than eight of the 10 teams ran ‘rookie’ drivers for the one hour of action – most completing the second of two such required outings in 2022, as per the regulations.
Red Bull gave F2 race winner Liam Lawson a run in Max Verstappen’s title-winning car, 2021 F2 runner-up Robert Shwartzman got some more track time in place of Carlos Sainz at Ferrari, and McLaren handed IndyCar star Pato O’Ward his F1 race weekend debut in Lando Norris’s cockpit.
Further changes saw F2 champion Felipe Drugovich given his maiden FP1 run with Aston Martin and F1 promotion hopeful Logan Sargeant in again at Williams, while Jack Doohan amassed some more mileage for Alpine, Pietro Fittipaldi ventured out for Haas and former Grand Prix racer Robert Kubica drove the Alfa Romeo.
Up front, pace-setter Hamilton held an advantage of 0.220s over second-placed Russell, though the baking hot early afternoon conditions were largely unrepresentative, given that both qualifying and the race will take place as the sun sets.
Behind, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez previewed their showdown for P2 in the drivers’ championship as they wound up in third and fourth respectively, separated by just under a tenth of a second.
Lawson was the highest-placed of the FP1-only drivers with an impressive run to P5, a couple of tenths away from regular Red Bull driver Perez – the New Zealander’s only issue coming when he overshot his pit box, having been “used to driving further down” in F2.
Sebastian Vettel started his farewell F1 weekend by placing his Aston Martin sixth, in front of confident Ferrari stand-in Shwartzman and former team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who is another to be walking away from the sport – at least for 2023 – as he prepares to split with McLaren.
Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas and Williams man Alex Albon rounded out the top 10 positions, with AlphaTauri pair Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda sandwiching 12th-placed Esteban Ocon in his Alpine.
Kubica ended his first FP1 run since the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in 14th, followed by Williams promotion hopeful Sargeant, who added another bonus point to his Super Licence with more than 100km of running, despite a dramatic spin at Turn 1.
Kevin Magnussen and Fittipaldi were line astern for Haas in P16 and P17 respectively, the latter drawing the ire and confusion of Gasly in the closing minutes of the session as cars tried to find some clear air.
O’Ward’s session started with a stuttering out-lap that immediately brought the Mexican back to the garage, but McLaren were able to fix their issues and send him out again for a run to 18th, as Doohan – who hit some engine trouble midway through the session after struggling to leave the pits – and Drugovich brought up the rear.
FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2022 – PRACTICE 1
|4||11||RED BULL RACING RBPT||1:26.967||+0.334s||23|
|5||36||RED BULL RACING RBPT||1:27.201||+0.568s||22|
|6||5||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:27.268||+0.635s||20|
|9||77||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:27.655||+1.022s||23|
|14||88||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:28.064||+1.431s||22|
|20||34||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:28.672||+2.039s||23|