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F1- Hamilton tops Mercedes 1-2 in opening practice for F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi

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Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes to a 1-2 finish in the first Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with the seven-time champion beating team-mate 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 Pérez. 

Leclerc and Pérez, 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 São Paulo Grand Prix. 

Leclerc’s best of the session was 0.035s off Russell and Pérez’s soft tyre run netted him a best time of 1:26.967, seven hundredths of a second off his Ferrari rival. 

In an impressive P5 at the end of the session was Red Bull reserve Liam Lawson. Sitting in for Max Verstappen, Lawson put in a lap of 1:27.201 to find himself just 0.568s off Hamilton’s pace. 

The New Zealander, one of seven young drivers taking part in the session, was followed by Sebastian Vettel who is making is set to make 299th and final grand prix start before retiring at the end of the weekend, but the German was followed by another youngster, Robert Shwartzman who ended the session just under eight hundredths of a second off Vettel and six tenths off P1. 

The Ferrari driver, who was deputising for Carlos Sainz, was followed by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Williams’ Alexander. 

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, who finished 11th and 13th respectively were split by Alpine’s Esteban Oco, while Robert Kubica, who deputised for Zhou Guanyu, took 14th spot.

Logan Sargeant took another step towards gaining his FIA Superlicence with an appearance for the Williams team he hopes to join next year and the US driver finished 15th, ahead of São Paulo polesitter Kevin Magnussen of Haas. The Dane was followed by Haas reserve Pietro Fittipaldi, while McLaren IndyCar driver Pato O'Ward made his F1 race weekend debut, in place of Lando Norris and finished 18th

Alpine junior programme driver Jack Doohan and F2 champion and Aston Martin hopeful Felipe Drugovich took the final two spots on the timesheet. 

2022 FIA Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.633 21 219.449
2 George Russell Mercedes 1:26.853 0.220 30 218.893
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:26.888 0.255 22 218.805
4 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:26.967 0.334 23 218.607
5 Liam Lawson Red Bull 1:27.201 0.568 22 218.020
6 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:27.268 0.635 20 217.853
7 Robert Shwartzman Ferrari 1:27.429 0.796 24 217.451
8 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:27.619 0.986 21 216.980
9 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:27.655 1.022 23 216.891
10 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1:27.840 1.207 26 216.434
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:27.845 1.212 28 216.422
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:27.891 1.258 27 216.308
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:27.991 1.358 28 216.063
14 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:28.064 1.431 22 215.883
15 Logan Sargeant Williams/Mercedes 1:28.098 1.465 23 215.800
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:28.142 1.509 20 215.692
17 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas/Ferrari 1:28.204 1.571 26 215.541
18 Patricio O’Ward McLaren/Mercedes 1:28.350 1.717 22 215.185
19 Doohan Alpine/Renault 1:28.484 1.851 25 214.859
20 Felipe Drugovich Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:28.672 2.039 23 214.403